Toronto

Some Corktown residents want 514 streetcar yanked until noisy tracks fixed

It can be almost impossible to find peace and quiet living downtown, but some Corktown residents say the screech from the recently installed 514 Cherry Streetcar is unbearable.

Some Corktown residents want 514 Cherry Streetcar yanked until tracks fixed

Corktown Resident Jason Mednick wants King 514 streetcar service suspended until tracks at King and Sumach are fixed. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/ CBC News)

It can be almost impossible to find peace and quiet living downtown, but some Corktown residents say the screech from the recently installed 514 Cherry Streetcar is unbearable.

"It's become a form a torture for us," said Jason Mednick, standing at the corner of King Street East and Sumach Street. "Equivalent to waterboarding."

The 514 runs along King Street and makes a sharp turn south at Sumach, heading to Cherry Street on its way to the newly-constructed streetcar loop across from the Distillery District. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

The 514 went into service in June. The TTC introduced the service to relieve crowding along the congested King streetcar route and to connect new residential developments in Corktown and the Distillery District with the rest of the transit system.

But Mednick says the noise was instant and alarming.

"About every 10 minutes or so, 20 hours a day, we listen to excessive screeching and squealing as they negotiate the turn," said Mednick.

The 514 runs along King Street and makes a sharp turn south at Sumach, heading to Cherry Street on its way to the newly-constructed streetcar loop across from the Distillery District. That tight turn is partially what's causing the sharp squealing sound that's irritating many residents.

But it's not just the screeching that's causing headaches, they say. 

"You can feel the floor vibrating right now when the streetcar goes by," said Chris Hinton, whose home faces King Street East.

"The first time it went through, I thought a truck hit a pole. There was a big bang in the house."

Chris Hinton says 514 Cherry Streetcar sends vibrations through his home. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/ CBC News)

He also owns a home next door, which he usually rents out. He says the squeal and vibrations turn off potential tenants.

Chris Hinton says his previous tenant moved out when the new streetcar tracks were installed. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/ CBC News)

TTC blames 'wheel creep'

"It has been and was much noisier than even the TTC would like it to be," said spokesperson Brad Ross.

Spokesman Brad Ross says the TTC has tried a number of remedies to lessen the 514 streetcar squeal at King and Sumach. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

He blames the problem on what he calls "wheel creep."

"When the streetcar goes around a corner, it's really just physics. The wheels jump across the track."

He says after residents complained, crews ground the tracks and ordered streetcar drivers to slow down through the intersection.

The permanent solution, he says, will be new streetcars. They've got a self-lubricating system, which is supposed to prevent squealing.

But Mednick says the new Bombardier Flexity vehicles are no better.

"They are three times as long," he said. "The sound is at par or worse than the old ones."

While Mednick is encouraged TTC is looking into the issue, he's frustrated months have passed and the sound persists.

"An immediate solution would be to stop the service," said Mednick, suggesting buses could run, instead. "TTC has recognized there is a major issue with this turn."

About the Author

Shannon Martin

Reporter, CBC Toronto

Shannon is an award-winning reporter with CBC Toronto. She was part of the core team that launched "No Fixed Address", a hugely popular series on millenials renting and buying in Toronto. In 2016, Shannon hosted a special live broadcast on-air and on Facebook simultaneously from Toronto Pride, which won top honours in the Digital category at the RTDNA awards. Contact Shannon: shannon.martin@cbc.ca or find her on Instagram at @ShannonMartinTV.