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Toronto gets $1b for light rail, more fodder for SkyTrain-rail debate

May 15th, 2009 · 9 Comments

In case you didn’t see it, this story about a federal/provincial billion for light rail in Toronto appeared on the Globe’s website this morning. Interesting that Mayor David Miller is advocating for light rail there, in light of the ongoing debate we have here in B.C. about whether TransLink should continue to pour billions into extending SkyTrain or switch to a light-rail system that would cover much more territory but operate on existing road space.

That debate was also partly the topic of my appearance on CBC’s The Point this week, where I talked with Steve Burgess about the debate over trolley buses versus diesel buses and SkyTrain versus light rail. You may not know this, but Vancouver is the last city in Canada that has trolley buses, since Edmonton decided this month to phase out its existing system. It’s also the only Canadian city that uses SkyTrain technology for its rapid transit.

A propos of all this, here’s a cool link to the comprehensive guide to Canadian transit systems, in case you ever wanted to know everything about the interurban railway of Temiskaming Shores or jitneys in Vernon.

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  • coldwater

    would love to have link to Vernon’s jitneys..

  • Darcy McGee

    You know, I like trolley buses in concept…I hate trolley wires, and I don’t want to think about the cost of maintenance on those things given that they are a fairly unique to Vancouver item. Probably relatively horrendous.

  • Corey

    The only reason we have Skytrain is because we give priority to cars.

    Sad, but true.

  • jesse

    I would rather pay more for the reduced noise of electric buses, whether they be trolley or battery.

    Toronto already has an LRT system: streetcars. Also Toronto has a skytrain from the Bloor-Danforth subway’s eastern terminus Kennedy to just past Scarborough City Centre.

    I have seen LRT/streetcar systems work well in low and high density regions of large cities. I think people lose track of how snarled car traffic is in many cities and how the preferential transit lane systems work well for both frequency of stops and relative speed. To be honest I don’t know if Vancouver traffic is yet at that stage.

  • jack

    “It’s also the only Canadian city that uses SkyTrain technology for its rapid transit.”

    Actually, it is not the only Canadian city using the ART technology (SkyTrain technology). The Scarborough RT in Toronto is using ART.

  • fbula


    I knew some transit buff would pick on that detail. Yes, I know about the Scarborough line, but it’s just one line. I should have specified that it’s the only Canadian city to use it as the main rapid-transit technology for the whole system, or something like that.

  • Darcy McGee

    > Yes, I know about the Scarborough line,
    > but it’s just one line

    But an important one, and one that I used to ride every damn day…along with hundreds of others, all day long. It connects Scarborough to Downtown.

    The thing breaks down so frequently now though I’m not sure you can call it “running.”

  • Lash Larue

    The Scarborough RT line is basically the demonstration for the SkyTrain technology. What does it say about that technology when Ontario spent so much public money to develop it, then abandoned it? (Hint: SkyTrain is an expensive dud)

    British Columbians are suckers for investing in SkyTrain, and continuing to invest in a dud technology. Nobody else in the world uses it. Does that make us leaders or fools?

  • dikweed

    I have to say that I agree that skytrain technology is horrible but Vancouver is not the only province /country/city to use this technology there must be around 5 or 6 other places such as Youngin south Korea, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia,Detroit city Michigan,Scarborough Ontario,Beijing China, New york City