Thursday, May 21, 2009

Error of omission

A Royson James column in today's star brings to light the reflections of Howard Levine, retired planner, city councillor and transit buff, on the St. Clair West streetcar project. Suffice to say, he is not very happy with the direction the city has gone with the project.

While many of his concerns are about design elements (which are inherently subjective), one point did catch my attention. When the line is done, travellers will save one minute on a complete trip from Jane to Yonge. While this is true, it ignores one fact - that the one minute saving is over the scheduled time. Since the delays due to traffic are habitual for any mixed traffic-streetcar, the community will benefit from reliable and predictable service. Also, since there is a limit to the level of practical service that mixed-traffic operation can provide, the right-of-way will allow for more frequent service.

$100 million for a minute saved is not a good investment, but such a conclusion can only be reached if one ignores most of the other benefits of the project. $100 million for reliable, higher capacity transit, streetscape improvements, jobs and general community investment is a pretty good investment if you ask me.

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At 5/21/2009 8:02 p.m. , Blogger Unknown said...

I agree with your conclusion. The improvement in frequency and reliability are more important than speed. Although I must say that I would expect a time savings of more than a single minute over that distance. We shall see.


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