Light Rail

St. Clair West LRT by the Numbers

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 09, 2012

The conventional story about the St. Clair West LRT is that it was a disaster: cost overruns, struggling business, failed adoption and so on. It has become a rallying call for opponents of expanded rapid transit in Toronto.

But as with so many battles waged mostly via angry anecdotes, actual data can help us cut through the rhetoric. A report in Saturday's Globe and Mail helps to set the record straight:

On the recommendation of councillor Joe Mihevc, the city is considering hiring an independent consultant to prepare a more complete statistical picture of how the St. Clair line has worked out and what issues still have room for further improvement.

It won't be enough to change the mind of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who consistently demonstrates an incorrigible disdain for reality's bias - his response was, "You don't have to have a study...it's a complete disaster" - but it should help put the issue to bed for anyone prepared to be convinced by actual evidence.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted April 09, 2012 at 10:11:33

I live on St Clair and while the construction period was chaotic and questionably run the end result is a success. I use the line as part of my daily commute downtown and on the whole it is a vast improvement. I cross half the line in about 15 minutes to St Clair West and from there another 15 minutes to union station

I would like to see the airport line link up with St Clair West. Given existing and future development on the the street it makes good sense.

I am in general a Rob Ford supporter but on this topic him and Mr Palacio seem off base.

Steve

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By Dan Minkin (anonymous) | Posted April 09, 2012 at 10:38:02

I lived in the St. Clair and Bathurst area both before and after the streetcar ROW construction and continue to visit my family there frequently. I must agree with Steve's general observations - the construction period was annoying, but the finished product is a clear improvement over what was there before. Not only is the streetcar itself far more effective, but even the flow of car traffic seems to have improved, probably due to intersection/turning lane/signal improvements that were part of the redesign. Most importantly though, St. Clair's value as a main street has shot up, with trendy restaurants, cafes and condo buildings are appearing all the time.

I'd be interested to see all this quantified by a study as per Councillor Mihevc's suggestion. In the meantime, the mayor's baseless bashing of the neighbourhood, in defiance of both reason and decency, constantly furthers my embarrassment as a Torontonian.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted April 10, 2012 at 14:49:27

The question I'd like to ask is, is St. Clair an LRT, or a streetcar?

It seems to be used often as an example, both by the Fordites, as well as the pro-LRT camp. But in actuality, I thought LRT was supposed to be a different beast from the traditional street car entirely (more distance between stops, more "subway-like" boarding, priority signals, larger platforms etc).

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