With the amount of vehicle interference in the downtown area once again the issues of streetcars has surfaced. With the need to improve transit, the debate over mixed traffic and streetcars, now and again pops up with the discussion turning to the old idea of a Queen Streetcar Subway. Unfortunately there is just too much development, which would make the cost of a full subway astronomically. However to be honest it is not really needed. With all of the talk about “Transit City” and the plans for major LRT improvements across the Toronto region little discussion has been some discussion about upgrading Queen and King Street. There has been discussion on resurrecting the idea of a subway or partial LRT / subway. But, there is something about the Queen and King Street that makes it not suitable anymore for subway use. There is a bit a “nostalgia” about the streetcar, especially in the downtown region of Toronto. However, improvements are definitely needed to improve the speed of streetcar service on Queen and King.
What some may not know is the fact that Queen and King carry enough people to justify a full subway. Granted, Queen and King does not need a subway, since it would just destroy the beauty of Queen and King. The amount of people using Queen and King justify it more than an extension to Vaughan or even the much ill-fated, uncompleted and neutered Sheppard Subway. Although there has been a lot of opposition the possibility of making Queen and King a “Transit Mall” this maybe the best option to fix the service needs of Queen and King. It may also be a better option to place Queen and King underground between Jarvis and just after University. On Queen, the original Queen Subway proposal already has a partially built subway tunnel. However, with a full “Transit Mall” between these locations it would not be necessary. Albeit, it could start at Church, instead of Jarvis. It’s extremely unfortunate that funds being tied up in the subway extension to Vaughan could have been used to built an elaborate LRT network around the entire city. Downsview Station is good enough and the extension to York University and beyond should be via a LRT network. In fact, let VIVA expand their own service using LRT technology to York University and let the TTC concentrate on service within the Toronto borders. But I digress!
“Transit Malls” exist in numerous places around North America, such as Calgary, Ottawa and places in the United States. It can work here! David Miller and city council need to move forward with a “Transit Mall”, with proper consultation. There will be opposition from businesses along Queen Street initially. However we are only talking about a small area of the downtown region. Adelaide and Richmond Streets parallel the downtown area and with improved transit service we may have the opportunity to make a substantial improvement to downtown life. Improving the atmosphere and experience of Toronto is a must. Those in opposition often quickly point to subways as the “answer” to everything. However, when you ask them who’s going to pay for it? Well, enough said! The same problems are happening now on Yonge Street now, north of Steeles. We do not need a subway into York Region; however we now have groups trying to stop the development of LRT’s for the region. Although I love subway trains financially they are just no longer viable. Queen and King can use a “Transit Mall”. It can do done, as long as it is done right!
By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The G.T.A Patriot”
For additional details on Toronto “Transit Mall” proposals and interesting debates check out the links below:
In an effort to provide more information about the Queen Streetcar and its history, ups and downs please take some times to view the links below.