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It’s happened again and again. More than two dozen times in recent years, someone has driven their car into the streetcar tunnel that leads to Union Station, invariably getting stuck and forcing a slow and costly recovery operation.

The Toronto Transit Commission put up signs. It made the signs more prominent and added flashing lights. Deep gouges were carved into the surface of the approach, forming aggressive rumble strips. The number of warnings to motorists multiplied to at least 12 signs. The drivers kept coming.

Some drivers blamed their GPS. A number have been charged with impaired driving. Others fled and couldn’t be tested for drugs or alcohol. The transit agency notes that it seems to happen most often on weekends and after midnight.

The latest incident -- and the last straw for the TTC -- was early Saturday.

A 24-year-old Toronto resident made it about 300 metres into the tunnel in a BMW before becoming trapped. Someone alerted police at about 4:30 a.m., according to spokeswoman Constable Allyson Douglas-Cook, who said that when officers arrived, they found the driver still in the car, his foot on the gas pedal and the rear wheels spinning. The man was charged with impaired driving.

This was the second vehicle in a week to be stuck in the tunnel, which leads from Queens Quay to Union Station, prompting the TTC to reveal that it has started looking at adding a physical barrier.

“Hopefully, this’ll be it,” said TTC spokesman Brad Ross. “Surely, an arm of some sort or a gate of some sort will stop vehicles going down.”

The need to consider a physical barrier to the tunnel hints at the difficulty of designing a road so that it encourages drivers to use it properly. This topic comes up in debates about speed limits, where traffic professionals point out that most people drive according to the cues they see around them, rather than the limit posted on the signs. And it has been evident during the King Street transit priority experiment, where drivers routinely ignore the rules about turning and proceeding through intersections.

In the case of Queens Quay, motorists who don’t pay attention as they make the turn off York Street can find themselves in a lane dedicated to streetcars. Although the number of these people who ignore the lights and signs and rumble strips and carry on into the tunnel is small relative to the total number of drivers in the area, suggesting overwhelming compliance with the rules, each misguided driver costs the TTC in money and passenger inconvenience.

To try to end these issues, the agency began looking last week at what the best type of gate look like. On its behalf, the city will also consult with the navigation app Waze to see about flagging the spot as a no-go area.

A gate has been proposed for years by critics, who said the design of Queens Quay in that area was obviously not clear enough for all motorists to understand, but the transit agency hesitated until now.

The TTC argued that a mechanical barrier is not ideal because it has to be maintained and has the potential to fail. And it would have to be designed to fail in the safe position, meaning it would be closed, trapping streetcars that happened to be in the tunnel and preventing others from entering. A swing-arm barrier that is pushed aside by an approaching streetcar could be a simpler solution, though that might not be enough to stop other vehicles.

Whatever the solution, the TTC has concluded that sticking with the current situation carries too much downside.

When local wags posted on Facebook a satirical event proposing a drive in the tunnel, they made sure to add the disclaimer that, “Your car will be destroyed.” This is barely an exaggeration. The pavement drops away at the mouth of the tunnel, leaving intruding vehicles driving atop streetcar tracks that jut up several inches. Doing so could result in profound damage to a vehicle, potentially shredding tires and damaging axles.

Vehicles tend to be immobilized quickly, requiring a major recovery effort that can cause even more damage.

It took a crane and what Mr. Ross estimated was “thousands” of dollars in overtime costs for the car to be removed Saturday morning. And while this was being undertaken, service on the 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina streetcar routes was disrupted.

“We roll our eyes now in exasperation,” Mr. Ross said. “It’s frustrating that these things happen. It’s frustrating that our service gets delayed as a result.”

The Toronto Transit Commission is investing in signalling upgrades that will hopefully see them able to run subway trains closer together.