I’ve often toyed with the notion of making known to the world my dislike of Toronto’s streetcars. Now that I’ve got a blog that’s starving for content, I’ve got an excuse to do so.
First off, I should make clear that I’m not anti- public transit. In fact, I even acknowledge that there are a few good things about streetcars. They are:
- They’re quaint.
- They don’t belch smoke.
- They don’t splash pedestrians by driving through puddles on rainy days.
- They don’t run cyclists off the road when they stop to pick up passengers.
- They can occasionally make a left turn easier for oncoming motorists (while they block the traffic behind them).
…and that’s about all the things that a good ol’ bus doesn’t have going for it.
That being said, here’s my list of grievances, in no particular order.
- They needlessly block two lanes of traffic whenever they stop, except where the city has had the foresight to build a streetcar island.
- While they’re sitting there until the last little old lady has climbed the steep steps into them, about 50 cars behind them sit idling, emitting noxious fumes.
- They force riders to cross the path of impatient rush hour motorists.
- They make a god-awful clattering sound as they go in a straight line.
- They make a god-awful screeching sound when they turn.
- Streetcar tracks snag bicycle and motorcycle wheels that run into them.
- The tracks get crazy slick when wet, causing a hazard for all vehicles.
- The wires are ugly.
- Track construction and maintenance closes entire streets for months at a time.
- The fact that they’re electric means nothing to the environment when the juice they run on comes from coal-fired power plants.
- Tardy yahoos will dart across the street to jump into a streetcar after it’s been blocking traffic for a few minutes already, just as it’s closing its doors. The driver inevitably re-opens the door to let a few more people in.
- Streetcar islands aren’t all that great- if you’re driving and get stuck behind a left-turning car with an island to your right, you’re SOL until he makes his turn.
There’s way more to say on this subject, so I’ll post more as the rants come to me.