streetcar toronto

TTC won't have enough streetcars and buses for Toronto's growing population

With the last vehicle of the TTC's new streetcar fleet finally on its way to Toronto, residents and members of local government have been raising new concerns about the future of streetcars and buses in the city.

Population growth is expected to increase by an average of 1 per cent per year in the next five years, and yet the TTC Board hasn't exactly stepped up to the plate regarding the additional transit vehicles that will be required to account for more commuters.

Though the commission's five-year plan and ten-year outlook suggest that the city will need approximately 60 more streetcars and 140 more buses in the coming years, TTC staff have yet to put forth a plan for implementing more vehicles — a plan that was supposed to be prepared for a board meeting on January 27 amid city council budget decisions for 2020.

As Ward 4 Parkdale-High Park Councillor Gord Perks pointed out in a popular Twitter thread yesterday, new vehicles — which are not currently included in the TTC's draft budget before the forthcoming meeting despite appearing on its initial ten-year capital plan — need to be ordered ASAP if the commission is to move forward and accommodate growing ridership on its routes.

In 2018, the TTC had 245 streetcars on 11 routes and 2,010 buses on more than 140 routes. Now that all of the CLRV and ALRV trains are retired, our streetcar fleet sits at 204, though the new vehicles can accommodate more passengers and so are being scheduled less frequently.

The union representing workers at the Bombardier plant in Thunder Bay has advised council to approve the purchase of at least 60 more of the streetcars. But, officials have been hesitant and there are no current budget allowances to do so.

Some, like Perks, are especially concerned about whether there will be any future vehicle purchases given the amount of money the provincial government is putting into other transit projects, like Doug Ford's Ontario subway line, instead. 

Parks has also noted that the initial order to Bombardier for the streetcars included an option to buy dozens more, which former Mayor Rob Ford and current Mayor John Tory failed to act on.

In light of all of this news, transitgoer advocacy group TTC Riders has just started an online petition for residents to ask the TTC Board and Mayor John Tory to order more streetcars and buses.

But, some note that roadblocks include not only massive costs, but things like a lack of yard space for extra vehicles.

While many routes are operating above crowding standards, and employment and population on the city are on the rise, residents will just have to see how service is increased to accomodate these changes amid funding constraints — and if more vehicles will end up being added as part of that service increase.

Lead photo by

CJ Burnell

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