Friday, June 09, 2006

200 by 2010!

I just read an interesting article in today's Toronto Star, where the former head of the Toronto Transit Commission confirmed my point about dedicated trackage and rights-of-way. (Damn, I'm good.) For several obvious reasons, I think he's full of it when he says that Toronto's streetcar system should have been scrapped and rebuilt from scratch, but I do agree with him about rights-of-way and dedicated trackage. And here I thought I was going out on some kind of weird, albeit commonsensical, limb.

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.


Blogger spocko said...

Nice letter I hope they print it and if you need to give your publisher any incentive to show that this is in fact an issue that is current send him a link to the story.

If your letter does get printed here is a tip. Put it up on the website next to your complete letter. Us the headline of the post to help people find the issue. Use the terms that would search for. This will help in the future when people are looking for the issue and your letter. Otherwise they would find your letter in the paper without the full context.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Interrobang said...

Thanks. I haven't heard from them, so I assume they are not publishing it, unfortunately. They might be a bit slow on the draw, though.

10:04 PM  

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