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Now Doesn't Get St. Clair

There are still questions to be answered and reassurances to be made before the St. Clair LRT project is deserving of a green light. Nevertheless, this week's Now has a dismissal of the plan that is entirely bogus.

For example, they write: "It will only save riders an average one to two minutes per trip. Whoopie."

The reality is that the average trip might improve by merely two minutes. However, rush hour trips should improve by more. And what's really important is reliability. The right-of-way guarantees riders that they can get to work on time and avoid the occasional tie-ups and jams that turn some trips into lengthy nightmares. Your average trip may slightly improve but your worst-case scenario is dramatically improved... and that's what matters when you're deciding what time to leave for work in the morning.

Nowalso writes: "The 12 million bucks could go to other projects and considering all the new vehicles we need on so many routes, does this not seem like a lot of bread for a two-minute gain?"

Which seems to show a complete lack of knowledge on this issue. The TTC projects that the improved reliability and flow on the St. Clair LRT would allow them to use 2 fewer streetcars to attain the same level of service. That's something that will pay for itself... not to mention freeing up vehicles for one of those other routes!

Now does understand that "During the busiest travel times, the 512 car carries 57 per cent of all people travelling on St. Clair." So, why not give those people 33% of the road?

Finally, Now counters the advantage of "more reliable service and end[ing] the frequent short-turns" by writing "The total number of hours the streetcar was delayed for all reasons in 2002 by collisions, construction and maintenance, breakdowns and emergency vehicles blocking the tracks was 338. That's less than 1 per cent of the total hours of operation."

But that seems to forget a few other causes of delay... like traffic congestion and left-turning vehicles in the streetcar lanes.

As I read the studies, this project is a very cost-effective way to improve and preseve transit access as the community grows. There may be reasons to be concerned, but Now's coverage is embarrasing.



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