I'm not even sure that the average citizen thinks that rail-based transit is superior. There are a lot of people who take the streetcars begrudgingly. A lot of auto drivers certainly curse the streetcars when they get caught behind them. They cost a lot more to buy and maintain than buses.once again you fail to put on the shoes of the average citizen who has no understanding of frequencies, technologies and what not which is what I am framing my point in. To them they see rail > bus regardless of frequency or what the amenities are inside. Besides I was never arguing about schedules or shelters or coal stoves. Scheduling and the shelter/ train amenities are soft aspects that are easily replaceable. Its the rail infrastructure that is the difference and frankly is regrettable that has been removed in place of cars. We are essentially trying to replicate the what is essentially LRT rail infrastructure that we had 100 years ago but torn down. We couldve developed Yonge st around the rail corridor back then but chose to abandon it for cars.
(Now, if you claimed that the average rider would think that rail-based transit is superior, I might be more inclined to agree with you, although there are certainly some that feel otherwise.)
But you know what's not superior? Waiting an hour between cars. It doesn't matter how nice the equipment is.
No matter what way you try to frame it, frequency is an important part of the equation. There's a reason why 70%-plus percent of the people on the TTC any given day use it despite having a car. A lot of it is convenience - the buses arrive pretty frequently, the trains arrive pretty frequently. Compare this with the suburbs - if you have a car, you're not likely to take transit.
Going back to the North Yonge Railways, the line was never going to stick around no matter what. It was too long, too inefficient, too infrequent. It would have cost too much to bring it up to downtown standards. To claim that it it was usable as LRT infrastructure is laughably inaccurate. There's a reason why the streetcar lines in the core have stuck around and still exist (for the most part), while the lines in the suburbs have all been removed.
The line was never going to be able to maintained. It's only been in the past 30 years or so that ridership has been high enough along that corridor to justify a rail line. What happens in the intervening 40 years?If the line had been maintained, those cars would have disappeared like the PCCs have on the Streetcar lines. You would instead be riding a somewhat modern train with many of the features you desire.... or wait, it would be like GO.
That's only possible however where the ridership allows it. It could be argued that the Yonge Subway is the modernization of the original Yonge streetcar line - and in which case, yes, we took something which was maybe "low grade" and antiquated, and made it better.I'd also add that the mantra I've bee hearing of late, that the legacy systems were hopelessly low grade infrastructure, has a truth to it, but like the ones above misses the mark. Compare the North Yonge Railways to, say, Pittsburgh's light rail, and you see the core of something viable. If we had wanted to there was every ability to maintain private right of ways where they existed and upgrade incrementally in a fashion that would have resulted in full rapid transit eventually, and avoided 80 odd years of nothing better than a local bus.
But there are a lot of places where the ridership stagnated for too long and the lines were not able to continue operation in the face of that. To continue your Pittsburgh Light Rail example, while two lines remain, check out how many lines they lost since the 1950s. Philadelphia is another.