In Liberty Village, the desire for new streetcars continues
Rush-hour crowding has residents walking west on King Street to get a streetcar spot
It will be at least two years before the TTC's new streetcars arrive and offer relief for riders on the overcrowded 504 King streetcar line.
The new streetcars — with their sleek design, high capacity and air-conditioned comfort — made their debut last weekend as two new vehicles entered service on the 510 Spadina route.
It's the first step in a long roll out that will eventually bring 204 new streetcars across the TTC's system.
That leaves those who live along King Street waiting. But as Todd Hofley of the Liberty Residents Association told Metro Morning Wednesday, people in his neighbourhood are used to waiting for streetcars, especially during rush hour.
"Sometimes you'll have to wait for two, three, even four streetcars in order to get on," he told host Matt Galloway.
"The closer you get to the downtown core, the harder it is to get on. And so now people in Liberty Village have taken to going farther west. They'll walk into Parkdale as far as they can in order to get on a streetcar. Otherwise, you won't even get on."
Rapid and recent development in the once industrial pocket of the city's west end has left infrastructure — transit in particular — lagging behind.
So why will it take more than two years to get the new streetcars running along King and other high-capacity lines?
The TTC says it needs time to train drivers, await delivery of the new vehicles and make upgrades along the lines they will serve. The new streetcars load and operate differently than the decades-old vehicles they will eventually replace.
In the meantime, Hofley said one option being considered is a special fare to allow residents to use the Exhibition GO station, located just south of Liberty Village.
"Right now it's a $5 ride on the GO and a $3 ride on the TTC," he said.
Hofley said his neighbours are patient people who've already endured large construction projects, most recently upgrades to the rail line to eliminate the Strachan Avenue rail crossing and make way for the coming airport train.
"The key is to make sure this doesn't happen again as the city continues to grow," he said.