Simon Pulsifer on the Queen East streetcar line. Photo by Oliver Archer-Antonsen.
For some people a day off is a time to relax, but for Simon Pulsifer, Wikipedia’s former number-one contributor, it’s “a chance to explore the city, spend a day with friends, see the new St. Clair line, salute the soon to be retired CRLVs, [and] do something that has (probably) never been done before.”
Last Sunday, Pulsifer, his brother (and former Torontoist contributor) Andrew, and two of their friends rode all of the TTC streetcar lines in a day (minus the sections of the St. Clair and Roncesvalles lines that are still under construction and the Kingston Road Tripper, which doesn’t run on weekends). In total, the foursome travelled approximately 104 kilometres in eight hours and rode on twenty different cars.
“I’d seen a Discovery Channel program about people in New York who tried to visit every single subway station in one day,” Pulsifer told Torontoist. “The problem is in Toronto that would be kind of straightforward and boring…so I got the idea that you could do the entire streetcar network in a day.”
The meticulously planned trip started at Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue West at 10:37 a.m. and finished at Queen Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue at 7:15 p.m.
“I budgeted eight hours if everything went well, with the expectation that at some point we’d get caught behind a broken down car or on a streetcar that was having problems, or something like that,” explained Pulsifer. “But nothing like that happened; it worked out really well, despite a fair amount of snow…but in terms of the timing, the streetcars were a bit slower than I budgeted for.”
The group’s prepared itinerary.
The average streetcar reportedly travels at about 18 km/h, but according to Pulsifer’s—admittedly unscientific—data, the average speed was closer to 15 km/h. The slowest line, due to excessive idling, was Harbourfront, clocking in at 12 km/h, and the fastest line was College, at 15.9 km/h. The average wait time for a streetcar was about three minutes, and the longest wait was fifteen minutes at Main Station for the Carlton streetcar.
Surprisingly, the recently rebuilt St. Clair line, with its right-of-way, wasn’t very fast. “It was about average really,” said Pulsifer. “It was also one of the emptier ones. It probably had about as many people as Dundas and Carlton. I’m not sure why it didn’t go faster. There were no major stops or delays on the route. It took a minute or so to navigate around the tunnels of St. Clair West Station, which aren’t accounted for in my length estimates, but that’s it.” (These results differ from Pulsifer’s original post at Urban Toronto, as he hadn’t completed his calculations yet.)
Except for a few minor incidents, including a broken door and a missed stop, the trip went off without a hitch. “By the end I was sort of disappointed that it was all coming to a close,” Pulsifer told us. “It was a great way to see the city. We got to see all sorts of neighbourhoods, like Long Branch and Roncesvalles, places where I’d never really spent much time before.”