Toronto's Retiring Streetcars an Opportunity for Jax?

January 18, 2011 15 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Assuming the 2030 Mobility Plan becomes reality, Jacksonville will have a funding mechanism for getting fixed-rail off the ground. With that in mind, Metro Jacksonville suggests taking advantage of Toronto's retiring streetcars to make our plans even more cost effective.

About the Toronto Streetcar System

The Toronto streetcar system comprises eleven streetcar routes in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), and is the largest such system in the Americas in terms of ridership, number of cars, and track length. The network is concentrated in downtown and in proximity to the city's waterfront. Much of the streetcar route network dates back to the 19th century. Unlike newer light rail systems, most of Toronto's streetcar routes operate in the classic style on street trackage shared with car traffic, and streetcars stop on demand at frequent stops like buses. Some routes do operate wholly or partly within their own rights-of-way, but they still stop on demand at frequent stops.

There are underground connections between streetcars and the subway at Union, Spadina, and St. Clair West stations, and streetcars enter St. Clair, Bathurst, Broadview, Dundas West, and Main Street stations at street level. At these stations, no proof of payment is required to transfer to or from the subway, as the streetcars stop within the stations' fare-paid areas. At the eight downtown stations, excepting Union, from Queen's Park to College on the Yonge–University–Spadina subway line, streetcars stop on the street outside the station entrances, and proof of payment is required to transfer to or from the subway.

Despite the use of techniques long removed in the streetcar networks of other North American cities, Toronto’s streetcars are not heritage streetcars run for tourism or nostalgic purposes; they provide most of the downtown core’s surface transit service, and four of the TTC's five most heavily used surface routes are streetcar routes. In 2006, ridership on the streetcar system totaled more than 52 million.

About The Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV)

Constructed between 1977 and 1981, Toronto Transit Commission currently has 195 CLRVs in service.

The Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV) is a type of streetcar currently used by the Toronto Transit Commission in Toronto, Canada.

The first ten cars were to be manufactured by SIG of Zurich, Switzerland and used as templates for Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC) (now Bombardier) to manufacture the rest at the Hawker-Siddeley Canada Ltd. Thunder Bay works. However, this number was cut down to six, which is why there are no CLRVs numbered 4006-4009. These cars are used by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and are numbered 4000 to 4005, and 4010-4199. These are the primary type of streetcar currently used by the TTC, along with the Articulated Light Rail Vehicle.

In 1980, cars 4027, 4029 and 4031 were leased and tested by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA).[2] During this time, two cars were occasionally operated as a pair.

CLRV Fast Facts

Seating Capacity: 42-46 seated, 132 standing

Car Length: 49 feet

Doors: Two

Maximum Speed: 68 mph

Weight: 50,010 lbs

Power Supply: Overhead trolley wire

Gauge: 4ft 10 7/8"

Articulated Light Rail Vehicles

Toronto's streetcar system also includes 52 articulated vehicles in service.

Seating Capacity: 61 seated, 155 standing

Car Length: 75 feet

Doors: Three

Maximum Speed: 68 mph

Weight: 81,010 lbs

Power Supply: Overhead trolley wire

Gauge: 4ft 10 7/8"

Taking Advantage in Jacksonville

Toronto's original CLRVs are nearing the end of their initial 30-year service life, meaning they'll either need to be rebuilt or replaced.  With new funding from senior governments, Toronto has made a decision to refurbish 132 vehicles and buy new low-floor, higher-capacity streetcars to replace the rest of the current fleet.

For a community like Jacksonville, this could be an opportunity to gain access to an initial fleet of streetcar vehicles for minimal costs.  While many may not view the CLRV as being "sexy" like the modern streetcar, cost savings would be in the tens of millions, considering modern streetcars run as much as $3 million per vehicle.

The benefit would be the opportunity to initiate fixed transit at a lower cost and quick rollout.  In other words, better utilization of existing resources.

Article by Ennis Davis