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Canadian Streetcar Systems- Toronto

Cities:

 Vancouver

Toronto


Toronto

 

Toronto Transit Commission

Began Operation: 1861

Route Miles: 57 

Stops:  Many

Org: Transit Agency    

Schedule: Daily

Photo: John Smatlak


Toronto, Canada is home to North America's largest streetcar system. Toronto is one of the "legacy" systems that bucked the trend of other US and Canadian cities, and retained an extensive streetcar network. In 1989 they began expanding the streetcar system, a process which has continued into the present day. The system is well covered on other websites, but we've included a basic introduction here to encourage you to learn more.  

The system is operated by the Toronto Transit Commission, a public entity that assumed operation of the city's transit services beginning in 1921, taking over from the existing municipal and private operators. As of 2008, the system included 139 bus routes, 11 streetcar routes, 3 subway lines and one rapid transit line. Streetcars serve on some of the heaviest surface routes, using a mix of dedicated rights-of-way and traditional mixed traffic running (with efforts underway to increase the amount of dedicated rights-of-way). TTC is also undergoing a major expansion, with the addition of light rail service as part of the "Transit City" plan. 

Streetcar service is provided with a fleet of 248 vehicles built between 1978 and 1984. The 196 single-unit "Canadian LRVs" (CLRV) replaced the predecessor PCC streetcar which had served for more than forty years. The 52 "Articulated LRVs" (ALRVs) are a substantially larger vehicle but are built along the same basic concepts and equipment. Toronto also retains three heritage trolleys, two PCCs and a 1921 "Peter Witt" style car. System operating voltage is 600V DC, and like Philadelphia in the United States, Toronto continues to use trolley poles for current collection. All streetcar track is broad gauge 4 feet 10-7/8 inches.

TTC is now in the process of procuring a large new fleet of modern, accessible streetcars to replace the vast majority of its existing fleet. 204 new 100% low-floor cars will begin arriving in 2012, supplied by Bombardier Transportation. A rendering of the new vehicle appears below. Click here for more information on the new fleet.

800px-TTCstreetcarmap-2005.png (155343 bytes)

Toronto streetcar map, click to enlarge

Toronto LFLRV - 2011 - Rear Diagonal View sm.jpg (119891 bytes)

 


Photos

Toronto 2766 and 4400 Harvey Shops.jpg (169817 bytes) Toronto group photo 2 sm.jpg (268333 bytes) Toronto turning onto Broadview sm.jpg (181346 bytes) Toronto Roncesvalles 4 sm.jpg (221909 bytes)
August 2012- the APTA Streetcar Subcommittee visits Harvey Shops, with the 1921 heritage car and the mockup for the new low-floor fleet. An ALRV turning onto Broadview The Roncesvalles line is being upgraded with "bulb-out" platforms that share space with the bike path
           
Toronto Bathurst and King 1 sm.jpg (186365 bytes) Toronto Bathurst King 3 sm.jpg (186257 bytes) Toronto Bathurst and King 2 sm.jpg (182000 bytes) Toronto Bathurst bridge scene 2 sm.jpg (194611 bytes)

Classic streetcar scenes at the corner of Bathurst and King. The trackwork arrangement that completely interconnects the crossing of two double-track lines is called a "grand union", allowing cars to move between the two lines in any direction. Once a common piece of streetcar infrastructure in cities throughout the world, only a handful remain.

Cyclists, autos and streetcars all compete for space on the Bathurst St. bridge.

          
Toronto Queen and Yonge sm.jpg (215474 bytes) Toronto Neville Park Loop 1 sm.jpg (154454 bytes) Toronto Neville Park Loop 2 sm.jpg (182499 bytes) Toronto07 4083 Dundas terminal sm.jpg (280090 bytes)
On Queen at Yonge

Single-ended streetcars mean turning loops at the end of each line. Here an ALRV snakes around the Neville Park loop.

Pulling out onto the street from the Dundas terminal

           
Toronto Gerrard and Broadview 2 sm.jpg (180234 bytes) Toronto Gerrard and Broadview 1 sm.jpg (193896 bytes) Toronto Railroad Museum 1 sm.jpg (162763 bytes) Toronto Railroad Museum 2 sm.jpg (176919 bytes)

Streetcars are woven into the fabric of Toronto's neighborhoods, which retain an amazing amount of small-business retail establishments along the primary commercial streets. Here streetcars pass a corner grocery at Broadview and Gerrard.

Downtown also hosts a small railway museum, co-located in an a restored roundhouse along with a restaurant and a furniture store. Urban development envelops the scene, and may ultimately push out the museum.

          
Toronto Yonge and Dundas 4 sm.jpg (188621 bytes) Toronto Yonge and Dundas 3 sm.jpg (189994 bytes) Toronto operators position sm.jpg (168843 bytes) Toronto tight squeeze sm.jpg (117234 bytes)

The area around the Yonge & Dundas subway station has developed into a lively night spot

Operator's position on a CLRV- note foot control, as on the predecessor PCC cars. The new fleet will provide operators with an enclosed cab.

One of the challenges of on-street operation- an improperly parked delivery truck results in mere inches of clearance 

          
Toronto 07 Maple Leaf Gardens sm.jpg (165279 bytes) Toronto 07 street boarding 1 sm.jpg (138404 bytes) Toronto 07 street boarding sm.jpg (144899 bytes) Toronto island platform sm.jpg (184643 bytes)
CLRV Passing the famed Maple Leaf Gardens

Much of the system retains the traditional method for streetcar boarding; passengers simply walk from the curb to the vehicle.

Some lines use "island" platforms between lanes of traffic
           
Toronto Spadina ROW 1 sm.jpg (168383 bytes) Toronto 07 4001 510 sm.jpg (187609 bytes) Toronto 07 Chinatown scene sm.jpg (149279 bytes) Toronto 07 Spadina shelter Chinatown sm.jpg (130200 bytes)
In addition to operation in mixed traffic, some lines make extensive use of exclusive lanes to help service speed and reliability  Chinatown scenes along Spadina Avenue 
       
Toronto St Clair terminus sm.jpg (144880 bytes) Toronto St Clair ROW 0 sm.jpg (198965 bytes) Toronto St Clair ROW 1 sm2.jpg (239650 bytes) Toronto St Clair ROW 2 OCS sm.jpg (180632 bytes)

Passengers arrive and depart inside a pre-paid fare area at the east end of the St. Clair line

Re-opened in 2009, the 512 St. Clair West line represents TTC's latest effort to upgrade the traditional streetcar line. The line utilizes reserved right-of-way with traffic priority and new platforms. The overhead trolley wire was also upgraded with stylized support structures as part of the effort to improve aesthetics.

       
Toronto St Clair West underground interchange sm.jpg (148025 bytes) Toronto St Clair ROW 3 sm.jpg (174733 bytes) Toronto St Clair ROW 7 sm.jpg (187772 bytes) Toronto St Clair ROW 8 left turn phase sm.jpg (184884 bytes)
This underground transit center links the 512 line with a subway station and several bus routes.   New street lighting and other streetscape improvements were also incorporated. A pair of photos illustrating the left turn phase, permitting turning cars to cross the right-of-way in a controlled fashion.
           
Toronto CLRV with bike sm2.jpg (145276 bytes) Toronto 07 restaurant window sm.jpg (143935 bytes) Toronto 07 Little Italy street stop sm.jpg (155618 bytes) Tornto 07 4156 York sm.jpg (159871 bytes)

Along College Street In Little Italy

Streetcars roll by outside the restaurant window

Passengers board on College Street

Route 504 crossing York Street
         
Toronto 07 courthouse V sm.jpg (145068 bytes) Toronto 07 courthouse scene 3 sm.jpg (179425 bytes) Toronto 07 courthouse scene sm.jpg (154224 bytes) Toronto 07 PCC night scene sm.jpg (144675 bytes)
The beautiful "Old City Hall" building in downtown Toronto The ALRV is a 76-foot articulated car 

Night scene downtown with one of the heritage PCCs

       
Tornonto 07 4076 King sm.jpg (144742 bytes) Toronto King church sm.jpg (136575 bytes) Toronto 07 510 King College sm.jpg (127837 bytes) Toronto 07 4000 King sm.jpg (114159 bytes)
Scenes along Spadina Avenue
       
Toronto 4128 lineup sm.jpg (161007 bytes) Toronto 07 Rte 505 detour sm.jpg (131227 bytes) Toronto 07 4201 501 boarding sm.jpg (150456 bytes) Toronto 07 4070 Westinghouse Building sm.jpg (172111 bytes)

Where the streetcar routes cross each other, they remain connected together in traditional fashion. These connections permit detours around line blockages. The car in the right-hand photo is detouring around a track construction project.

Bicycles and streetcars share the road on Queen Street

Car 4070 passes the Canadian Westinghouse Building on King Street.

       
Toronto07 Spadina Waterfront Jct sm.jpg (127831 bytes) Toronto harborfront 6 turning onto Queens Quay sm.jpg (118266 bytes) Toronto harborfront 2 water cut sm.jpg (160631 bytes) Toronto harborfront 1 sm.jpg (121226 bytes)

Turning off Spadina onto Queen's Quay along the waterfront. An historic sailing ship is docked in the background.

This man-made "water cut" brought the water in closer to the land, enhancing public access to the waterfront while providing more room for a smallcraft harbor. The iconic CN Tower is in the background.

       
Toronto harborfront 3 Queens Quay sm.jpg (132411 bytes) Toronto streetcar and water taxis 2 sm.jpg (168051 bytes) Toronto streetcar subway loop sm.jpg (98451 bytes) Toronto 07 4012 504 turnback sm.jpg (124750 bytes)
Segregated right-of-way along Queen's Quay. This style of median is "mountable" for use by emergency vehicles.

Waterfront intermodal; water taxis meet streetcars.

Additions to the streetcar system since 1989 have included a short underground section to connect with the subway system downtown. 

Car 4012 has just gone through a loop, "short turning" on route 504 

       
Toronto Witt hotel sm.jpg (173152 bytes) Toronto Witt Downtown stop sm.jpg (139793 bytes) Toronto Witt motormans view sm.jpg (95534 bytes) Toronto Witt reflection sm.jpg (164397 bytes)
TTC retains three heritage cars, including this 1923 "Peter Witt" type car. It  was brought out for an inspection trip by APTA's Streetcar & Heritage Trolley Subcommittee during the 2007 Rail Transit Conference
 
Toronto 07 PCC CLRV at Queen sm.jpg (154239 bytes) Toronto 07 PCC CLRV sm.jpg (134980 bytes) Toronto 07 PCC Church St sm.jpg (138089 bytes) Toronto 327 sm.jpg (151701 bytes)

Two PCC cars are also part of the heritage fleet. These scenes are also from the APTA 2007 Rail Transit Conference. TTC makes the heritage cars available to the public for charters.

A visit to the Halton County Radial Railway museum outside Toronto offers the visitor a whole world of Toronto transit history
Toronto CLRV interior 1 sm.jpg (134768 bytes) Toronto CLRV interior 2 sm.jpg (135320 bytes) Toronto CLRV control position sm.jpg (121025 bytes) Toronto 07 4154 512 sm.jpg (165216 bytes)
Interior views of a CLRV
           
Toronto07 Spadina King intersection 3 sm.jpg (216454 bytes) Toronto07 Spadina King intersection 2 sm.jpg (199351 bytes) Toronto Spadina ROW 2 sm.JPG (264599 bytes) Toronto 07 dog friendly transit sm.jpg (114969 bytes)
Scenes at the corner of Spadina and King The appearance of the streetcar right-of-way on Spadina has been further enhanced with landscaping Dog-friendly transit!

 

 John Smatlak Photos 


News / Updates / Links

Official TTC website

Transit Toronto website

TTC-"Toronto Meet Your New Ride" website

Halton County Radial Railway (the local trolley museum)

Bombardier Gets Nod for $1.2B Streetcar Contract, National Post article 4/24/09

This page was last updated on 8/23/12


 

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