Jan 06, 2014
Light Rail & Streetcars

Toronto Downsizes Streetcar Fleet Due to Winter Storms

Over the holidays, a particularly nasty ice storm wreaked havoc in my hometown of Toronto (and much of the surrounding area for that matter). The storm was so bad it left hundreds of thousands of people without power over Christmas. The problem was then compounded by several wicked cold snaps that saw the mercury plunge into...

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Aug 18, 2010
Light Rail & Streetcars, Statistics and Specifications

Speed Is Not Dependent Upon Technology

The Toronto Star reports today that the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and a waterfront development agency are at loggerheads over a planned new streetcar corridor. The essence of the conflict is this: The Toronto Transit Commission wants to experiment with track design on a new streetcar route to speed up Toronto’s failingly low streetcar speeds...

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Jul 17, 2010
Bus, Light Rail & Streetcars

Taken For A Ride

Taken For A Ride is a documentary first broadcast on PBS in 1996. It tells the story of how a consortium led by General Motors, Firestone Tires and Standard Oil systematically worked to uproot the American streetcar network and replace it with roads, buses and private automobiles. The short hand for this incident is the...

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Dec 31, 2009
Analysis, Thoughts, Urban Planning & Design


I’d just like to thank everyone for the kind words and support the above article generated. I actually found out this article had landed after the fact. Myself and my partner, Gabriela, were driving home from visiting the Hungerburgbahn in Austria. I received a phone call on my cell from the Toronto radio station CFRB....

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Dec 27, 2009
Analysis, Thoughts, Urban Planning & Design

One Friday Night in Toronto

On April 26th, 2008 unionized staff of the Toronto Transit Commission walked off the job at 12:01 am. The action occurred on a Friday night, thereby stranding late night workers, revelers and bar patrons. People were not happy. At the time, I was without a contract and was scrambling to find a way to continue...

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Dec 23, 2009
Light Rail & Streetcars, Thoughts, Urban Planning & Design

The Cost of Light Rail

I tend to pick on Light Rail for a reason. It’s a technology akin to the average beauty contestant. It looks good on the outside, but is kind of useless on the inside. Subways (HRT) can move hordes of people quickly and buses can move a moderate number of people cheaply, but Light Rail seems...

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Nov 30, 2009
Analysis, Light Rail & Streetcars, Urban Planning & Design

LRT is Chicken

When you actually examine the data (Bent Flyvberg‘s data is particularly illuminating) you see that Light Rail Transit’s (LRT) ability to heal a city’s transit woes are negligible at best and non-existent at worst, especially in relation to the costs associated with the technology. So why, then, do we keep coming back to LRT? Well,...

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Nov 23, 2009
Analysis, Light Rail & Streetcars, Toronto

The Speed of CPT (and Chickadees)

The other day I wrote about how Toronto’s streetcars were like shooting chickadees with cannonballs.  In terms of speed, the streetcars were designed to operate at speeds far in excess of what was possible in an urban environment. So how does CPT stack up on our Cannonball Index (that doesn’t exist, by the way, but...

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Nov 18, 2009
Light Rail & Streetcars, Thoughts, Toronto

Shooting a Chickadee with a Cannonball

The Swiss have an expression to describe solving a problem with far more than is necessary. To do so, they say, is to “shoot a chickadee with a cannonball,” and is a perfect description of what light rail is to the transit planning problem. As an example: Toronto’s current fleet of streetcars were designed to...

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