200 by 2010!
I wrote a letter to the reporter who wrote the article, through the Star's "Speak Out" feature, which has a forum specifically on this article. It will be interesting to see what, if any, response I get from the reporter or the paper. Here's the text of my letter:
Dear Mr. McGran,
I just read with interest your article about streetcars and
rights-of-way in Toronto. While I emphatically disagree with Mr.
Ducharme that scrapping and rebuilding Toronto's streetcar system
(probably the oldest surviving functional streetcar system in North
America) would have been a good move, I absolutely agree that
rights-of-way, both in traffic and on dedicated trackage, are
essential to a smoothly-running streetcar system.
I am the author of a forthcoming guide to the history and demise of
streetcar systems in North America. One of the key factors I
identified that helped kill off most cities' street railway systems
was the lack of dedicated trackage or right-of-way in traffic. The
loss of street railway and radial railway systems across North America was a devastating blow to urban life, culture, community, and the
environment. It would be a real shame if Toronto followed suit at
this late date, especially since many municipalities are now building
light rail, at considerable sink cost. It would be far more efficient
to keep and expand what Toroto already has -- especially since the
Toronto streetcars are custom-designed and absolutely unique in the
You can read more about streetcars, rights-of-way, and related issues
at my website [URL].
Thank you for bringing up this vitally important topic.
As I've reported previously, Toronto has 191.7 miles of streetcar tracks. I would like to propose a campaign to the TTC, whereby the TTC will extend existing streetcar routes incrementally, by maybe a mile or two at a time, over the next several years. Possible candidate routes are the 506 and 501 routes. (I will be writing more about this soon, ideally on the desktop computer which is in my office next to my paper copy of the TTC route map, which is on my office wall. Right now I'm being expectedly hedonistic and am in bed with the laptop.) Ideally, I'd like to see Toronto have 200 miles by 2010, or some other round number, and make a fuss about it. Torontonians have a lot of civic pride in their streetcars; use it.
Pocket Guide Update: I'm nearly finished the manuscript, which fills me with great joy. My publisher is having some slight financial difficulty at the moment, and is going to be returning to New York City from Portland, Oregon in about a week. However, despite all that, our intention is to have the guide appear more or less on schedule at the end of the month or in early July.