By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A person’s home should be a place that they can rely on as a sanctuary following a tiresome day in the hustle and bustle of Toronto. But for residents living near the Woodbine Loop at Queen Street East and Kingston Road, this does not appear to be the case as many are reporting higher than normal noise levels coming from the streetcars using the turning spot.
With construction work in Toronto’s east end blocking a number of the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) routes, many streetcars have been using the Woodbine Loop for their end-of-route turnaround. This has led to an increased frequency in the amount of time residents say they are forced to endure the screeching noise coming from the streetcars using the tracks.
“It started back in April I think it was,” said Marc-Antony Trepanier, a resident of the neighbourhood. “It was constant. We sent several emails to TTC to have a look at it but they kept giving us messages with the same talking points.”
According to TTC in an email to Beach Metro Community News, the Woodbine Loop, like others in the network, “is prone to increased noise depending on weather conditions.”
“The noise at this and other loops can be worse at this time of year,” said a TTC spokesperson.
It took two months of responses similar to this before Trepanier said he and his neighbours were granted any sort of a resolution from the City of Toronto after the topic gained traction on Twitter or X. (See some of the Twitter – X- comments here — higher than normal noise levels coming from the streetcars )
“Since July, TTC staff have been manually lubricating the tracks three times per day,” said Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford. “Lubricator systems are also regularly inspected to ensure healthy functionality.”
Following lubrication of the tracks, Trepanier said that there was a noticeable difference. However, the relief felt by residents only lasted “for about two weeks and then it went back.”
“The screeching is nonstop,” he said.
Although 75 per cent of the streetcars running through the Woodbine Loop are equipped with noise-dampening rings, with operators prioritizing the 505 route “as an added measure,” Bradford said that “It’s not a perfect system.”
“Unfortunately, noise cannot be prevented in all circumstances,” he said. “For example, rain and temperature fluctuation cause streetcar noise levels to increase across the system at all loops. In these cases, I’ve asked staff to increase their manual lubrication schedule to compensate.”
Trepanier, however, questions this schedule as he said he has noticed officials performing the lubrication process on a less frequent basis.
“[It] was great for the first little while, but they’re not doing it every day,” said Trepanier. “There’s no way that they’re doing it everyday, three times a day anymore.”
Trepanier said that he is often forced to approach TTC operators to personally request someone to come down to the Woodbine Loop to grease the tracks.
“And they would [make the request]. But the guys would never show up,” he said.
Now having to live through a constant barrage of noise, Trepanier, who has been a resident of the area for about two years, reminisces about calmer times when the squealing sounds emerged only once or twice a day.
“Even then I would argue, why are streetcars screeching anyways?” said Trepanier. “I’m just talking about this area, but I know it’s happening everywhere.”
Some blame the screeching on the design of the new streetcars which are prone to make loud noise while going around tight corners, however, this has not been confirmed by Beach Metro Community News.
“I share the frustration of the community who have been dealing with increased noise this year at the Queen/Kingston streetcar loop,” said Bradford. “For the past four months, I have been working with residents and staff to get answers and, more importantly, solutions to this problem.”
With one streetcar – the 506 Carlton – having returned service to Main Street Station, and the 505 Dundas scheduled to return to Broadview Station when construction finishes early next year, it appears residents will likely have to endure the continued screeching until solutions can be implemented.
– Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.