Barbara Starr is no stranger to living in neighbourhoods where streetcars make their way along tracks embedded in city streets.
For several years, she has called the Dundas Street West and the Roncesvalles Avenue and also the Harbord and Bathurst streets areas home. She also lived for a stint in Roncesvalles Village.
Last August, she moved to the area of Dundas West and College streets. Streetcars are a way of life for Starr, who understands that with them comes some sound and vibration.
However, over the past seven months, she has noticed a significant increase in that noise and vibration.
“Since the beginning of August, the noise and vibration has increased drastically. Things vibrate across my counter,” Starr told The Villager. “My beef is the increase.”
The triangle of tracks is used as a turn-around, residents say. Yet, high traffic is not their concern.
Starr said she isn’t sure if it’s a maintenance issue, but she has noticed the noise and vibration tends to increase if streetcars speed through the intersection.
“When they go slow, it’s not so bad – it’s never going to be silent,” said Starr. “From my observation, speed is one of the factors. When they speed up, they make a ‘thug-thug’ noise.”
Starr is part of a group of neighbours who have banded together to form the ‘Residents for a Quiet Ride’ to ensure the noise and vibration issue is resolved.
TTC spokesperson Jessica Martin confirmed the public transportation agency was first made aware of the noise and vibration in January and sent its “track maintenance staff” out to investigate. The tracks were found in a “state of good repair,” she said, however, there was evidence of some wear and tear on the components of a “tailing switch.”
“We took the opportunity to replace it because we had to dismantle the switch to investigate,” said Martin.
Martin said weather impacts noise level too. In the winter, it tends to be louder than in summertime. Lubricant is used in particular areas to grease the tracks, however, this tends to take place in areas that are “loops,” such as the High Park loop, Martin said.
Speed could be a factor, she added.
“We’ve sent an inspector to look at that,” she said.
Christina Ramos has lived in the neighbourhood for the past 40 years. She agrees that since last year, the noise has become problematic.
The streetcar noise and vibrations “shake the house,” she said.
“It’s very loud,” she said, describing the noise as a ‘clicking’ sound.
Her neighbour, Rohan Walters, can take credit for initiating the Residents for a Quiet Ride. An architect, he designed and built his house at Lansdowne Avenue and College Street in 1996 to absorb vibration caused by the streetcar tracks.
“I’m sensitive to the level of vibration,” he said.
Walters recalls in 2000, the noise and vibration had increased and so he contacted the TTC at the time and the problem was quickly resolved.
Since moving into his house, he says he’s noticed the level of track maintenance has “deteriorated.”
The group is in the midst of creating a petition. It has created a Facebook page as well.
“We want to do this together in a determined way,” said Walters.
For further details, visit www.facebook.com/residentsforaquietride