Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
For Thomas Lanier Williams III, better known by his pen name, Tennessee Williams, streetcars were the perfect metaphor. The tragic playwright saw the inevitable and unalterable nature of their route, predetermined by the tracks they follow, to be a summary of the human condition.
“They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at — Elysian Fields!” Blanche DuBois, the unfortunate heroine of his signature work, A Streetcar Named Desire, announces when she arrives to stay with her sister.
Through the play, Blanche is driven by desire on an inevitable journey to destruction. Her path to ruin is represented in her travel itinerary: a stint on desire, before transferring to cemeteries.
Many commentators in Canada fear that the COVID-19 pandemic means transit is going in the same, ruinous direction.
Sceptics believe a fear of enclosed spaces filled with strangers will decimate demand and lead to an inevitable decline — at least in the short term — for public transit systems around the country. The drop off in demand would come just as many transit dreams have begun to enjoy the investment users have been crying out for since automobiles became less popular in the `90s, when major urban renewal emerged alongside environmental concerns.
In reality, the future is much brighter.
Peeling back the layers of hype and hysteria reveals a wealth of new chances created by a pandemic that has driven manufacturing and creativity to new heights.
As COVID-19 measures begin to gently ease, councils around Canada can invest in a new route: a streetcar named opportunity.
“The future for transit is great. Contrary to popular belief there is going to be more transit, bigger transit, more rapid transit,” Dr. Josipa Petrunic, President and CEO of Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC), told The Pointer….