Toronto Streetcar Offers Lessons

We reference the Kansas City streetcar often because of the similarity between our two cities: the corridor population is nearly identical, the route is about the same, the weather is very familiar, and our Midwestern cultures are also comparable.

And it probably goes without saying that we hope to replicate their success. Because of all these similarities, we are confident we can.

What it Means for Omaha

The Toronto streetcars handle upwards of 65,000 passengers a day – a lot more than Omaha’s will handle (at least for a little while!). But even a big city with a legacy system can pivot and evolve with how passengers and drivers are interacting with it.

Once our streetcar is built, we won’t be patting ourselves on the back for too long. Experts will be analyzing data and users will be expressing opinions and the system will adjust as needed, just like they’re doing in Toronto.

But there are lessons to be learned from other cities, as well. One such city is Toronto. Although Toronto has a legacy streetcar system, it continues to evolve.

Fit for a King

The 504 King streetcar runs in the busiest section of the biggest city in Canada. But as this article explains, the congestion of this urban corridor was making it faster for commuters to walk to work.

All that changed in December when city officials made a few changes. They restricted car traffic, made signal priority smarter and improved safety measures. (Even a cab driver thought it was a great move.)

According to data from the Toronto Transit Commission, “the statistics show that during the evening rush hour period of 4 to 7 p.m., the mean travel time for westbound streetcars in the pilot area has been cut by 24 percent, to 17.3 minutes, from 22.8 minutes before the pilot began. The mean travel time for eastbound streetcars has been reduced by 20 percent, to 16.4 minutes from 20.6 minutes.”

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