Canadian Streetcar Systems- Toronto
Began Operation: 1861
Route Miles: 57
Org: Transit Agency
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.
2012- the APTA Streetcar Subcommittee visits Harvey Shops,
with the 1921 heritage car and the mockup for the new
ALRV turning onto Broadview
Roncesvalles line is being upgraded with
“bulb-out” platforms that share space with the
Queen at Yonge
position on a CLRV- note foot control, as on the predecessor
PCC cars. The new fleet will provide operators with an
Passing the famed Maple Leaf Gardens
Some lines use
“island” platforms between lanes of traffic
addition to operation in mixed traffic, some lines make
extensive use of exclusive lanes to help service speed and
scenes along Spadina Avenue
underground transit center links the 512 line with a subway
station and several bus routes.
street lighting and other streetscape improvements were also
pair of photos illustrating the left turn phase, permitting turning
cars to cross the right-of-way in a controlled fashion.
504 crossing York
beautiful “Old City Hall” building in downtown Toronto
ALRV is a 76-foot articulated car
along Spadina Avenue
right-of-way along Queen’s Quay. This style of median is
“mountable” for use by emergency vehicles.
to the streetcar system since 1989 have included a short
underground section to connect with the subway system
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
visit to the Halton
County Radial Railway museum outside Toronto offers the
visitor a whole world of Toronto transit history
views of a CLRV
at the corner of Spadina and King
appearance of the streetcar right-of-way on Spadina has been
further enhanced with landscaping
John Smatlak Photos
News / Updates / Links
Halton County Radial Railway (the local trolley museum)