Transit City: Someone Was Listening to Me
Dedicated trackage functions in streetcar systems two ways – either it runs in the street in its own separate lane, or else it runs separately from the roadway, typically over long distances, as in interurban streetcar lines. In particular, Toronto (where streetcars have remained continually in service for over a century), has several routes operating partially on private rights-of-way, usually in the median of a street and separated by raised curbs. Most of these private rights-of-way are newly established (and a political battle continues as of this writing over private right-of-way for streetcars on St. Clair Ave.), but one street, the Queensway, has featured private streetcar right-of-way since 1957. This feature keeps the streetcars (and streetcar riders) out of the way of automobiles, and automobiles out of the way of streetcars.Giving streetcars their own private rights-of-way also allows for higher-speed service. In some areas, historically, electric interurban rail would run at speeds of 60-80 mph, or 100-130 kph, or approximately the speed of normal Canadian 400-series highway traffic (the speed limit is 100 kph, but most people drive ~120 kph). That is significantly faster than the average morning/evening commute down the "Don Valley Parking Lot".
So imagine my joy, delight, and moistness of undergarments when Spacing Wire ran this overview of the new Transit City plan in Toronto, which includes an entire new streetcar (they call it "light rail" these days, shhh...) system mostly running on private rights-of-way. (Attention TTC planners: Right of way at rail-road crossings is very, very, like tres important, too, and if you can finagle right of way in street traffic, I believe I will move to Toronto to start the First Church of Saint Planner of Toronto Transit Commission. Jus' sayin'.)
Other particularly scrummy elements of the plan include:
- a proposed 122.4 km of new lines (this blows my rather modest "200 by 2010" proposal out of the water);
- a number of phases of the plan already approved or in the environmental assessment stage;
- good statistics on the actual ridership of the current TTC lines these new routes would supplant (in the tens of millions of trips per year on average -- and everyone says nobody likes public transit), and
a comprehensive web of service running from the extreme west end of the city to the east, and the same north to south.
This plan reads like a dream, and should be imitated in any city of any size across North America. Whitebreadville would be no exception. The only difficulty will be getting the funding. Maybe a comprehensive "Transit Cities" plan for every burg in Soviet Canuckistan over 150 000 people would be something they could do with those huge governmental surpluses; it's certainly more productive (in terms of real wealth generation) than pouring it into debt reduction, or, ghu help us, Afghanistan...
Special Non-Streetcar Multimedia Bonus: From time to time I've been posting links on here to music I like, and I've got a new drug -- Mata Hari by Ofra Haza. (A statement on how depressing the world is: Ofra Haza is dead and Britney Spears is famous. And yes, she sounded like that live; I've heard raw recordings. You can contrast with Dupatta by Hadiqa Kiani, if you like... ("Hadiqa Kiani is the Islamic Ofra Haza," she says, and everyone gets offended... *snerk* )