Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thanks, WT, you saved us another 20 years of discussing BRT

It's a good thing Bus Rapid Transit can "easily" be converted to Light Rail Transit later on, because it looks like Winnipeg may need to ditch the articulated buses planned for busways and the future Bus Rapid Transit plan, and get right down to laying railway tracks. ("Transit fails 'bendy bus' on winter road test, emissions standards" - WFP)

Not only does the ariculated "bendy-bus" not work well in winter conditions, it's a pig on diesel. Neither practical nor green. Yikes.

I know NewFlyer Industries don't manufacture them, but maybe Winniepg should look at light rail. I'm sure the City could purchase inexpensive rolling stock from Eastern Bloc cities that are upgrading their rail systems. When is Coun. Harry Lazarenko going back to the Ukraine next?

I should add that 75 years ago, the Greater Winnipeg area had over 200 linear miles of street railway tracks, on which electrically-powered streetcars rode. It was possible to ride the streetcar to Stonewall, Headingley, and, yes, the University of Manitoba. At the same time, the urban system serviced every significantly-built up neighborhood of the time, with cars going down Avenues like Corydon, Academy, Broadway, Portage, Sargent, Notre Dame, William, Logan, Higgins, Dufferin, Euclid, Selkirk, Mountain, and Bannerman; streets like Main, Donald, Osborne, Sherbrook, McGregor, and Arlington.

Each of these routes were willingly ripped up and paved over one by one by the Winnipeg Electric Co. When this private utility was "purchased" by the City in 1953, they finished the job by getting rid of the last of the streetcars in 1955.

***

And since everyone likes historical photos...
A Portage Avenue that simply does not exist anymore, 1920s

Looking east on Portage from around Kennedy St. 1929

A fog falls on Portage and Fort, c.1920s

At Main and Higgins, c.1950. Note the Bell Hotel and the Bank of Commerce (Bridgman Architecture) in back

By the early '50s, not only were streetcars the bane of Modernist traffic engineers, but so were jay-walking streetcar passengers

Again, at the Portage-Fort-Notre Dame intersection, c.1953

5 Comments:

Anonymous Jim Jaworski said...

In the "early 1950s photo of the young man....Where is his hat? I thought all men wore hats even in that part of the century.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Jim Jaworski said...

Hey, that guy in the "early 1950s" photo looks a bit like me. Would have been nice to ride a streetcar had I been born more than 16 years earlier.

But alas, God puts us in a time period for a purpose. He knows best. And I guess he caused me to be born when I just had a faint memory of the trolleybuses, so I could help fight to bring back electric transit.

Makes sense?

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Street Cars are lame.

We need a SUBWAY. Nothing but a SUBWAY will do.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous j.jacobs said...

anonymous, even if he (or she) is being sarcastic, has the right idea. Streetcars were a fine innovation for 1891, and on-street LRTs would certainly be preferable to what we have today, but a surface-based transit system isn't going to be rapid nor will it provide protection from the elements. Streetcars feeding Wilson subway stations (for example, a Broadway-Arlington car), creating a Toronto-style mixed system of buses, LRTs and subway trains would be the best solution.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am completely in favour of a subway, though not the Wilson Plan, as the three short lines fail to service far to many major locations in the city, but I think we should also consider streetcars. I recently have had the joy to ride the streetcars in Toronto, New Orleans, and San Francisco, all of which have a functioning streetcar network which is a part of the urban transit system and not just for tourists. Toronto has many lines and uses 1970's Canadian built streetcars ,while San Francisco uses restored PCC cars from the'40's (absolutely one of the most gorgeous vehicles ever made)and New Orleans uses 1920's vintage cars. The superiority of streetcars to buses is so evident as they do not have to weave in and out of traffic and are respected far more by automotive traffic than are diesel buses. They are cleaner, quieter and smoother riding than buses and there is of course the unexplainable "cool factor". Winnipeg should put in one streetcar line....a park to park service from Margaret and Main loop to Assiniboine Park Loop, (with short-turns at McAdam Ave., Cambridge St. and also at Kenaston Blvd. for rush hour and early morning/late night service)via Main, Portage, Memorial, Osborne, and Corydon Ave. Think how this could aid in revitalization of North Main as well as connect downtown with touristy Osborne Village and Corydon Ave. Should I mention that they run on electricity something Manitoba has an abundance of? Alas, too many drivers would bitch and complain because it might slow them down a minute or two as they race to get into the drive-thru line up at Tim Horton's or McDonald's.

2:13 AM  

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