Toronto streetcar system

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Toronto streetcar system
CLRV 4067 (12774408023).jpg
LocaleToronto, Ontario, Canada
Transit typeStreetcar
Number of lines11[1]
Number of stations685 stops,[2] including 8 shared with the subway (all others but one are street-level stops)
Daily ridership291,000 (avg. weekday,
Q2 2014)[3]
Annual ridership100,037,500 (2013)[4]
Began operation1861 (electric lines since 1892)[1]
Operator(s)Toronto Transit Commission
CharacterStreet running
System length82 km (51 mi)[1][2]
Track gauge4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) Toronto gauge
Minimum radius of curvature36 ft 0 in (10,973 mm)[5]
ElectrificationOverhead lines, 600 V DC
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Toronto streetcar system
CLRV 4067 (12774408023).jpg
LocaleToronto, Ontario, Canada
Transit typeStreetcar
Number of lines11[1]
Number of stations685 stops,[2] including 8 shared with the subway (all others but one are street-level stops)
Daily ridership291,000 (avg. weekday,
Q2 2014)[3]
Annual ridership100,037,500 (2013)[4]
Began operation1861 (electric lines since 1892)[1]
Operator(s)Toronto Transit Commission
CharacterStreet running
System length82 km (51 mi)[1][2]
Track gauge4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) Toronto gauge
Minimum radius of curvature36 ft 0 in (10,973 mm)[5]
ElectrificationOverhead lines, 600 V DC

The Toronto streetcar system comprises eleven streetcar routes in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), and is the largest such system in the Americas in terms of ridership, number of cars, and track length. The network is concentrated primarily in downtown and in proximity to the city's waterfront. Much of the streetcar route network dates back to the 19th century. Unlike newer light rail systems, most of Toronto's streetcar routes operate in the classic style on street trackage shared with car traffic, and streetcars stop on demand at frequent stops like buses. Some routes do operate wholly or partly within their own rights-of-way, but they still stop on demand at frequent stops.

There are underground connections between streetcars and the subway at St. Clair West, Spadina, and Union stations, and streetcars enter St. Clair, Dundas West, Bathurst, Broadview, and Main Street stations at street level. At these stations, no proof of payment is required to transfer to or from the subway, as the streetcars stop within the stations' fare-paid areas. At the eight downtown stations, excepting Union, from Queen's Park to College on the Yonge–University–Spadina line subway line, streetcars stop on the street outside the station entrances, and proof of payment is required to transfer to or from the subway.

Despite the use of techniques long absent from the streetcar networks of other North American cities, Toronto’s streetcars are not heritage streetcars run for tourism or nostalgic purposes; they provide most of the downtown core’s surface transit service, and four of the TTC's five most heavily used surface routes are streetcar routes. In 2006, ridership on the streetcar system totalled more than 52 million.[6]


Early history (1861–1945)[edit]

Streetcars at Bay and Queen in 1923
This Peter Witt streetcar, preserved at the Halton County Radial Railway, has been restored into the TTC’s original 1921 livery.

In 1861, the city of Toronto issued a thirty-year transit franchise (Resolution 14, By-law 353) for a horse-drawn street railway, after the Williams Omnibus Bus Line had become heavily loaded. Alexander Easton's Toronto Street Railway (TSR) opened the first street railway line in Canada on September 11, 1861, operating from Yorkville Town Hall to the St. Lawrence Market. At the end of the TSR franchise, the city ran the railway for eight months, but ended up granting a new thirty-year franchise to the Toronto Railway Company (TRC) in 1891. The TRC was the first operator of horseless streetcars in Toronto. The first electric car ran on August 15, 1892, and the last horse car ran on August 31, 1894, to meet franchise requirements.

There came to be problems with interpretation of the franchise terms, for the city. By 1912, the city limits had extended significantly, with the annexation of communities to the North (1912: North Toronto) and the East (1908: Town of East Toronto) and the West (1909: The City of West Toronto - The Junction). After many attempts to force the TRC to serve these areas, the city created its own street railway operation, the Toronto Civic Railways to do so, and built several routes. Repeated court battles did force the TRC to build new cars, but they were of old design. When the TRC franchise ended in 1921, the Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC) was created, combining the city-operated Toronto Civic Railways lines into its new network.

The TTC began in 1921 as solely a streetcar operation, with the bulk of the routes acquired from the private TRC and merged with the publicly operated Toronto Civic Railways. In 1925, routes were operated on behalf of the Township of York (as Township of York Railway), but the TTC was contracted to operate them.

Thoughts of abandonment (1945–1989)[edit]

Track and trolley coach overhead plan of Toronto in October, 1965. The map features detailed plans of Danforth, St.Clair, Lansdowne, Russell and Roncesvalles carhouses, Eglinton Garage and Hillcrest Complex.

After the Second World War, cities across North America began to eliminate their streetcar systems in favour of buses (see also General Motors streetcar conspiracy). During the 1950s, the TTC continued to invest in streetcars and the TTC took advantage of other cities' streetcar removals by purchasing extra PCC cars from Cleveland, Birmingham, Kansas City, and Cincinnati.

PCC #4500 operating on the 509 Harbourfront Line.

In 1966, the TTC announced plans to eliminate all streetcar routes by 1980. Streetcars were considered out of date, and their elimination in almost all other cities made it hard to buy new vehicles and maintain the existing ones. Metro Toronto chair William Allen claimed in 1966 that "streetcars are as obsolete as the horse and buggy."[7] A large number of streetcars were eliminated with the creation of the Bloor–Danforth subway that opened in February 1966.

The plan to abolish the streetcar system was strongly opposed by many in the city, and a group named "Streetcars for Toronto" was formed to work against the plan. The group was led by professor Andrew Biemiller and transit advocate Steve Munro, and had the support of city councillors William Kilbourn and Paul Pickett, and urban advocate Jane Jacobs. Streetcars for Toronto presented the TTC board with a report that found retaining the streetcar fleet would in the long run be cheaper than converting to buses. This combined with a strong public preference for streetcars over buses changed the decision of the TTC board.[8]

The TTC then maintained most of their existing network, purchasing new custom-designed Canadian light rail vehicle (CLRV) and articulated light rail vehicle (ALRV) streetcars. They also continued to rebuild and maintain the existing fleet of PCC (Presidents' Conference Committee) streetcars until they were no longer roadworthy.

The previous policy of eliminating streetcars and using buses for new routes (added as the city developed northward) accounts for the concentration of streetcar lines within five kilometres of the waterfront. The busiest north-south and east-west routes were replaced respectively by the Yonge–University–Spadina and Bloor–Danforth subway lines, and the northernmost streetcar lines, including the North Yonge and Oakwood routes, were replaced by trolley buses (and later by diesel buses).

Two other lines that operated north of St. Clair Avenue were abandoned for other reasons: the Rogers Road route was abandoned to free up streetcars for expanded service on other routes, and the Mount Pleasant route was removed because of complaints from drivers that streetcars slowed their cars down and because the track was aging and would have needed to be replaced anyway.[citation needed]

Scarborough RT (1985–present)[edit]

Main article: Scarborough RT

The Scarborough rapid-transit (RT) line was originally proposed to operate with streetcars on a private right-of-way, but the plans were changed when the Ontario government persuaded the TTC and the borough of Scarborough to buy its then-new Intermediate Capacity Transit System (ICTS) rapid transit trains instead. Another proposed streetcar/rapid transit line from Kipling station was abandoned, but the ghost platform at the bus level is a hint of a streetcar line.

Expansion period (1989–2000)[edit]

The TTC returned to building new streetcar routes in 1989. The first new line was route 604 Harbourfront, starting from Union Station, travelling underneath Bay Street and rising to a dedicated centre median on Queen's Quay (along the edge of Lake Ontario) to the foot of Spadina Avenue. This route was later lengthened northward along Spadina Avenue in 1997, continuing to travel in a dedicated right-of-way in the centre of the street, and ending in an underground terminal at Spadina Station. At this time, the route was renamed 510 Spadina to fit with the numbering scheme of the other streetcar routes. This new streetcar service replaced the former route 77 Spadina bus, and since 1997 has provided the main north-south transit service through Toronto's Chinatown and the western boundary of University of Toronto's main campus. The tracks along Queen's Quay were extended to Bathurst Street in 2000 to connect to the existing Bathurst route, providing for a new 509 Harbourfront route from Union Station to the then-newly refurbished Exhibition Loop at the Exhibition grounds, where the Canadian National Exhibition is held.

Recent proposals and developments (2007–present)[edit]

One of the new Flexity Outlook streetcars undergoing testing

Route 512 St. Clair was rebuilt to restore a separated right-of-way similar to that of the route 510 on Spadina Avenue, to increase service reliability and was completed on June 30, 2010.[9]

On March 14, 2007, Toronto Mayor David Miller and the TTC announced Transit City, a major proposal for a 120-kilometre, $6.1-billion network of new European-style light rail transit (LRT) lines that would provide rail transit to underserved suburban areas of the city. Since 2008, environmental assessments were made for trams along Eglinton Avenue, Sheppard Avenue East, Finch Avenue West, Jane Street, Morningside Avenue, Don Mills Road, and the extension of the 509 Harbourfront route from Exhibition Place to Queen Street West at Roncesvalles Avenue. Eventually, construction of the Sheppard East LRT line along Sheppard Avenue began in December 2009.

The new Flexity Outlook low-floor streetcars began to enter service on August 31, 2014. Car 4400 is seen on route 510 Spadina in September.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who was elected as Miller's successor in 2010, announced the cancellation of Transit City on the day that he took office.[10][11] The redesigned Eglinton–Scarborough Crosstown line along with a Sheppard line extension was announced four months later, with the support of Metrolinx and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. The redesigned line would put the 19 km Eglinton portion completely underground, integrate the Scarborough RT portion, and run contiguously from Black Creek Drive to McCowan Road.[12]

On December 16, 2010, the TTC suffered its worst accident since the Russell Hill subway crash in 1995. Up to 17 people, including four schoolchildren, were sent to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries after a 505 Dundas streetcar heading eastbound collided with a Greyhound Canada bus at River Street.[13]

On February 8, 2012, city council voted to restore the original LRT plans cancelled unilaterally without council approval by Mayor Ford. This basically restored funding for the original lines although under a different project name.


The current TTC streetcar network, in relation to the subway; all eleven regular routes appear red.

As of 2013, the TTC operates 304.6 kilometres (189.3 mi)[2] of routes on 82 kilometres (51 mi) streetcar network (double or single track) throughout Toronto.[1][2] There are 11 regular streetcar routes:[2]

501Queen24.4324.43 km (15.18 mi)Part of Blue Night Network as 301 Queen
502Downtowner09.389.38 km (5.83 mi)
503Kingston Road08.978.97 km (5.57 mi)Rush hour service only
504King13.9713.97 km (8.68 mi)
505Dundas10.7410.74 km (6.67 mi)
506Carlton14.8214.82 km (9.21 mi)Part of Blue Night Network as 306 Carlton
508Lake Shore09.409.40 km (5.84 mi)Rush hour service only
509Harbourfront04.654.65 km (2.89 mi)
510Spadina06.176.17 km (3.83 mi)
511Bathurst06.476.47 km (4.02 mi)
512St. Clair07.017.01 km (4.36 mi)Route reconstructed to a dedicated right-of-way (completed on June 30, 2010)
521Exhibition EastSeasonal service during the Canadian National Exhibition only

Route numbers[edit]

The TTC has used route numbers in the 500 series for streetcar routes since 1980; before then, streetcar routes were not numbered, but the destination signs on the then-new CLRVs were not large enough to display both the route name and destination, according to the TTC.[citation needed] The only exceptions to this numbering scheme are the two streetcar-operated 300-series Blue Night Network routes.

The one other exception to the 500 series numbering was the Harbourfront LRT streetcar. When introduced in 1990, this route was numbered 604, which was intended to group it with the old numbering scheme for rapid transit routes. In 1996, the TTC overhauled its rapid transit route numbers and stopped trying to market the Harbourfront route as 'rapid transit' changing the number to 510; the tracks were later extended in two directions to form the 510 Spadina and 509 Harbourfront routes.[14]

During times when streetcar service on all or a portion of a route has been replaced temporarily by buses (e.g., for track reconstruction, major fire, special event), the replacement bus service is typically identified by the same route number as the corresponding streetcar line.

Dedicated rights-of-way[edit]

Queens Quay streetcar station

The majority of streetcar routes operate in mixed traffic, generally reflecting the original track configurations dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, newer trackage has largely been established within dedicated rights-of-way, in order to allow streetcars to operate with fewer disruptions due to delays caused by automobile traffic. Most of the system's dedicated rights-of-way operate within the median of existing streets, separated from general traffic by raised curbs and controlled by specialized traffic signals at intersections. Queen streetcars have operated on such a right-of-way along the Queensway between Humber and Sunnyside loops since 1957. Since the 1990s, dedicated rights-of-way have been opened downtown along Queens Quay, Spadina Avenue, St. Clair Avenue West, and Fleet Street.

Short sections of track also operate in tunnel (to connect with Spadina, Union, and St. Clair West subway stations). The most significant section of underground streetcar trackage is a tunnel underneath Bay Street connecting Queens Quay with Union Station; this section, which is approximately 700 m (2,300 ft) long, includes one intermediate underground station at Bay Street and Queens Quay.

During the late 2000s, the TTC reinstated a separated right-of-way — removed between 1928 and 1935[15] — on St. Clair Avenue, for the entire 512 St. Clair route. A court decision obtained by local merchants in October 2005 had brought construction to a halt and put the project in doubt; the judicial panel then recused themselves, and the delay for a new decision adversely affected the construction schedule. A new judicial panel decided in February 2006 in favour of the city, and construction resumed in summer 2006. One-third of the St. Clair right-of-way was completed by the end of 2006 and streetcars began using it on February 18, 2007. The portion finished was from St. Clair Station (Yonge Street) to Vaughan Road. The second phase started construction in the summer of 2007 from Dufferin Street to Caledonia Road. Service resumed utilizing the second and third phases on December 20, 2009 extending streetcar service from St. Clair to Earlscourt Loop located just south and west of Lansdowne Avenue. The fourth and final phase from Caledonia to Gunns Loop (just west of Keele Street) is completed and full streetcar service over the entire route was finally restored on June 30, 2010.[16][17]

In 2008, the tracks on Fleet Street between Bathurst Street and the Exhibition Loop were converted to a dedicated right-of-way and opened for the 511 Bathurst and the 509 Harbourfront streetcars. Streetcar track and overhead power line were also installed at the Fleet loop, which is located at the Queen's Wharf Lighthouse.[18]

Future expansion[edit]

Main article: Transit City

The City of Toronto's and the TTC’s Transit City report[19] released on March 16, 2007, proposes creating new light rail lines including:

The Ontario government has in its MoveOntario 2020 plan, proposed funding approximately two thirds of the $5.5 billion of the seven Transit City lines, with the expectation that the federal government would fund the remaining third.

In April 2012, construction began on the 700-metre (2,300 ft) Cherry Street streetcar line, which will run in a dedicated right-of-way on Sumach and Cherry Streets from King Street to the railway corridor south of Mill Street, serving West Don Lands and the Distillery District.[20][21][22]

Additional proposals include:

Discontinued streetcar routes[edit]

Toronto Street Railway[edit]

Routes marked to City were operating on May 20, 1891, when the Toronto Street Railway Company's franchise expired and operations were taken over by the City of Toronto.[23]

Bathurst00 Sep 18897 Dec 1889to "Seaton Village"
Bloor29 May 1891to City
Brockton4 Sep 188300 May 1884from "Queen & Brockton"; to "Queen & Brockton"
Carlton & College2 Aug 1886to City
Church18 Aug 1881to City
Danforth8 Jul 1889to City
Davenport18 Aug 1890to Cityfrom "Seaton Village"
Dovercourt via McCaul24 Sep 1888to Cityfrom "McCaul & College"
Front & McCaul22 Oct 188328 Jun 1884to "McCaul & College"
Front & Parliament25 Nov 187825 Jul 1881to "Parliament" and "Winchester"
High Park via Queen00 Apr 1887to Cityby this date; from "Queen & Parkdale"
King21 Sep 1874to Citylongest continuously operated route in Toronto
King via Strachan2 Sep 187919 Sep 1890during Toronto Industrial Exhibition only; to "King"
Kingston Rd.9 Jun 187500 Apr 1887Kingston Road Tramway Co.; by this date; part to "Woodbine"
Lee15 Jul 1889to City
McCaul & College30 Jun 188422 Sep 1888from "Front & McCaul"; to "Dovercourt via McCaul"
McCaul & College15 Jul 1889to Cityfrom "Dovercourt via McCaul"
Metropolitan26 Jan 1885to CityMetropolitan Street Railway
Parliament26 Jul 1881to Cityfrom "Front & Parliament"
Queen2 Feb 18617 Dec 1881to "Queen & Brockton"
Queen4 Sep 188300 May 1884from "Queen & Brockton"; to "Queen & Brockton"
Queen & Brockton8 Dec 18813 Sep 1883from "Queen"; to "Queen & Brockton"
Queen & Brockton00 May 1884to Cityfrom "Brockton" and "Queen"
Queen & Parkdale2 Sep 187900 Apr 1887ended by spring 1887; to "High Park via Queen"
Queen East11 May 1885to Cityfrom "Sherbourne"
Seaton Village27 Jul 1885to Cityfrom "Spadina & Bathurst"
Sherbourne1 Dec 1874to Citymay have begun a day or two earlier
Spadina00 Jun 1879to City
Spadina & Bathurst30 Jun 188425 Jul 1885from "Spadina"; to "Seaton Village"
Toronto Industrial Exhibition13 Sep 188319 Sep 1890first electric route; operated by steam during the 1891 season
Winchester26 Jul 1881to Cityfrom "Front & Parliament"
Woodbine21 May 1887to Cityfrom "Kingston Rd."
Yonge9 Nov 1861to Cityfirst rail transit route in Toronto

Toronto Railway Company[edit]

Routes marked to TTC were operating on September 21, 1921, when the Toronto Railway Company's operations were taken over by the Toronto Transportation Commission.[24]

Arthur1902-02-12 12 Feb 19021909-00-00 1909merged with "Dundas"
Ashbridge1917-11-05 5 Nov 1917to TTCreplaced by bus service in the 1920s.[25]
Avenue Road1895-19-02 2 Sep 1895to TTC
Bathurst1885-07-27 27 Jul 1885to TTC
Belt Line1891-11-16 16 Nov 1891to TTC
Bloor1889-00-00 1889to TTC
Broadview1892-10-00 Oct 1892to TTC
Brockton1882-00-00 18821893-10-09 9 Oct 1893renamed "Dundas"
Carlton1886-08-00 Aug 1886to TTC
Church1881-00-00 1881to TTC
College1893-11-00 Nov 1893to TTC
Danforth1889-05-00 May 18891892-10-00 Oct 1892renamed "Broadview"
Davenport1892-12-00 Dec 18921891-11-00 Nov 1891replaced by "Bathurst", "Parliament" and "Winchester"
Dovercourt1888-11-00 Nov 1888to TTC
Dufferin1889-00-00 18891891-09-30 30 Sep 1891merged with "Danforth"
Dundas1893-10-09 9 Oct 1893to TTC
Dupont1906-08-29 29 Aug 1906to TTC
Harbord1911-08-29 29 Aug 1911to TTC
High Park1886-00-00 18861905-00-00 1905
King1874-00-00 1874to TTC
Lee Avenue1889-0--00 18891893-05-15 15 May 1893merged into "King"
McCaul1883-10-00 Oct 18831896-01-01 1 Jan 1896replaced by "Bloor"
Parkdale1880-00-00 18801886-00-00 1886renamed "High Park"
Parliament1881-00-00 18811918-03-04 4 Mar 1918merged into "Queen"
Queen1861-12-02 2 Dec 1861to TTC
Queen East1882-00-00 18821891-10-16 16 Oct 1891merged with "Danforth"
Roncesvalles1909-00-00 19091911-12-20 20 Dec 1911replaced by "Queen"
Seaton Village1885-07-27 27 Jul 18851891-10-23 23 Oct 1891replaced by "Davenport", "Parliament" and "Winchester"
Sherbourne1874-11-00 Nov 18741891-11-16 16 Nov 1891merged into "Belt Line"
Spadina1878-00-00 18781891-11-16 16 Nov 1891merged into "Belt Line"
Winchester1874-11-00 Nov 1874to TTC
Woodbine1887-05-00 May 18871893-04-04 4 Apr 1893replaced by "King"
Yonge1861-09-11 11 Sep 1861to TTC
York1891-10-001891-12-31in operation in October 1891 and discontinued prior to 31 December 1891

Toronto Civic Railways[edit]

All routes transferred to the Toronto Transportation Commission.[26]

Bloor1914-11-04 4 Nov 1914to TTCTCR and TRC Bloor routes merge into Broadview route and later replaced by Bloor-Danforth subway 1966
Danforth1913-10-30 30 Oct 1913to TTCSame name, merged with Bloor route and finally replaced by Bloor-Danforth subway 1966
Gerrard1912-12-18 18 Dec 1912to TTCMerger as Gerrard-Main route and later merged in Carlton route (now 506 Carlton)
Lansdowne1917-01-16 16 Jan 1917to TTCTwo streetcar routes: Lansdowne (replace by trolleybus route 1942) and Lansdowne North (replaced by Lansdowne North bus 1925); now part of 47 Lansdowne bus route
St. Clair1913-08-25 25 Aug 1913to TTCSame route as St. Clair route (now 512 St. Clair)

Toronto Transportation Commission/Toronto Transit Commission[edit]

Belt Line18911923
Bloor18901966replaced by Bloor–Danforth subway
Coxwell19211966replaced by 22 Coxwell bus
Dundas Exhibition19801986522also operated during the 1995 season and the 2013 Canadian National Exhibition
Dupont/Bay19261963replaced by 6 Bay bus
Earlscourt19541976merged into 512 St. Clair; assigned number 512L
Fort19311966merged into 511 Bathurst
Harbord19111966replaced by 72 Pape and 94 Wellesley buses
Harbourfront19902000604renumbered 509 Harbourfront
King Exhibition19802000521reinstated in 2013, and operating as 521 Exhibition East
Long Branch19281995507merged in 501 Queen
Oakwood19221960replaced by 63 Ossington trolleycoach
Parliament19101966replaced by 65 Parliament bus
Spadina19231948replaced by the 77 Spadina bus; which was replaced by the 510 Spadina streetcar in 1991
Winchester19101924replaced by Yonge and Parliament streetcars
Mount Pleasant19751976split from 512 St. Clair; replaced by 74 Mt. Pleasant trolleycoach
Rogers Road19221974replaced by 63F Ossington via Rogers trolleycoach
Yonge18731954replaced by Yonge subway, Downtown bus, and Yonge trolleycoach

Rolling stock[edit]

Hundreds of cars were acquired from the TTCs predecessor companies, including the Toronto Railway Company, Toronto Civic Railways, Toronto & York Radial Railway and Toronto Suburban Railway. The current fleet is composed of 248 vehicles.

Streetcars purchased by the TTC[edit]

Note that not all numbers within a series were used.

Fleet numbersTypeIn serviceNotes
Peter Witt1921–1954"large" Witts; even numbers only
2700–2898Peter Witt1922–1965"small" Witts; even numbers only
2301–24192-door trailer1921–1938odd numbers only
2701-30293-door trailer1923–1954"Harvey" trailers; odd numbers only
4000–4199CLRV1977–currentwill be phased out as Flexity Outlook (Toronto streetcar) start entering service in 2014
4200–4251ALRV1987–currentarticulated; will be phased out when Flexity Outlook (Toronto LRT car) start entering service in 2014
4900ALRV1982–1983prototype; never owned by TTC but by UTDC; used on TTC test runs and returned (later scrapped); painted with similar TTC scheme
4401-4403Flexity20142013, testing; 2014, revenue service

Track gauge[edit]

Track gauges
By transport mode
Tram · Rapid transit
Miniature · Scale model
By size (list)
Graphic list of track gauges

 Fifteen inch381 mm(15 in)

 Two foot and
600 mm
597 mm
600 mm
603 mm
610 mm
(1 ft 11 12 in)
(1 ft 11 58 in)
(1 ft 11 34 in)
(2 ft)
 750 mm,
Two foot six inch,
800 mm
750 mm
760 mm
762 mm
800 mm
(2 ft 5 12 in)
(2 ft 5 1516 in)
(2 ft 6 in)
(2 ft 7 12 in)
 Swedish three foot,
900 mm,
Three foot
891 mm
900 mm
914 mm
(2 ft11 332 in)
(2 ft 11 716)
(3 ft)
 Metre1,000 mm(3 ft 3 38 in)
 Three foot six inch,
Cape, CAP, Kyōki
1,067 mm(3 ft 6 in)
 Four foot six inch1,372 mm(4 ft 6 in)

 Standard1,435 mm(4 ft 8 12 in)

Five foot
1,520 mm
1,524 mm
(4 ft 11 2732 in)
(5 ft)
 Irish1,600 mm(5 ft 3 in)
 Iberian1,668 mm(5 ft 5 2132 in)
 Indian1,676 mm(5 ft 6 in)
 Brunel2,140 mm(7 ft 14 in)
Change of gauge
Break-of-gauge · Dual gauge ·
Conversion (list· Bogie exchange · Variable gauge
By location
North America · South America · Europe
World map, rail gauge by region
Streetcar track reconstruction at Bathurst Street and Queen Street in 2007.

The tracks of Toronto's streetcars and subways are built to the unique track gauge of 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm), 2 38 in (60 mm) wider than the usual standard gauge of 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm), which the Toronto subway Scarborough RT uses.[27] According to Steve Munro, an expert on the history of Toronto area transit, TTC gauge is "English carriage gauge".

That the gauge of the said railways shall be such that the ordinary vehicles now in use may travel on the said tracks, and that it shall and may be lawful to and for all and every person and persons whatsoever to travel upon and use the said tracks with their vehicles loaded or empty, when and so often as they may please, provided they do not impede or interfere with the cars of the party of the second part (Toronto Street Railway), running thereon, and subject at all times to the right of the said party of the second part, his executors, and administrators and assigns to keep the said tracks with his and their cars, when meeting or overtaking any other vehicle thereon.[28]

As wagons were normally built at standard gauge, the streetcar rails were selected to be slightly wider, allowing the wagons to ride on the inside sections of the rail, and the streetcars on the outside. The Williams Omnibus Bus Line changed the gauge of their buses in 1861 to fit this gauge. At the time, track for horsecars was not our modern 'T' rail, but wide and flat, with a raised section on the outside of the rail.

According to the TTC, the City of Toronto feared that the street railway franchise operator, first in 1861, the Toronto Street Railway, then in 1891, the Toronto Railway Company, and in 1921, the TTC, would allow the operation of steam locomotives and freight trains through city streets, as was common practice in Hamilton, Ontario (until the 1950s) and in many US cities, such as New York City and Syracuse, New York.[27]

Standard gauge rails in the streets would have allowed this, but steam railway equipment could not follow the abrupt curves in the streetcar network. Opposition to freight operation in city streets precluded interchange even with adjacent radial lines even after the lines changed to TTC gauge. Electric railway freight cars could negotiate street curves, but freight operations to downtown were still not allowed until the final few years of radial operation by the TTC.

The unique gauge has remained to this day since converting all tracks and vehicles would be expensive and would lack any real benefit anyway. Some proposals for the city's subway system involved using streetcars in the tunnels, possibly having some routes run partially in tunnels and partially on city streets, so the same gauge was used, but the idea was ultimately dropped in the case of dedicated rapid-transit trains. The use of standard-gauge tracks on the Scarborough RT makes it impossible for there to be any track connection between it and the other lines, and so when RT vehicles need anything more than basic service (which is carried out in the RT's own McCowan Yard), they are carried by truck to the Greenwood subway yards.[29]

The proposed Eglinton Crosstown LRT line will be constructed to standard gauge. As the project is receiving a large part of its funding from Metrolinx, the Ontario provincial transit authority, it wants to ensure a degree of commonality with any other proposed tram/LRT projects within Ontario to ensure a better price for purchasing vehicles.[29]


Track map of TTC network containing loops, stops, subway and GO Transit stations

Dedicated station[edit]

There is one standalone underground station in the network that exclusively serves streetcars, located in the tunnel shared by the 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina routes:


A Peter Witt car on tour service, decorated for Dominion Day, at McCaul Loop in 1975

Since all of Toronto's current streetcars are single-ended, turning loops are provided at the normal endpoints of each route and at likely intermediate turnback locations. A routing on-street around one or more city blocks may serve as a loop, but most loops on the system are wholly or partly off-street. Many of these are also interchange points with subway or bus services.


Streetcars inside Roncesvalles Carhouse

Toronto's streetcars are housed and maintained at various carhouses or "streetcar barns":

Facility details
 Yard  Location  Year Open  Notes 
Hillcrest ComplexDavenport Road and Bathurst Street1924former site of farm and later Toronto Driving Club track; services streetcars and buses, repair facilities
Roncesvalles CarhouseQueen Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue1895; rebuilt 1921built for the Toronto Railway Company; indoor and outdoor streetcar storage
Russell (Connaught) CarhouseConnaught Avenue and Queen Street East1913built for the Toronto Railway Company; indoor and outdoor streetcar storage

Inactive carhouses once part of the TTC's streetcar operations:

Facility details
 Yard  Location  Year Open  Year Closed  Notes 
Danforth CarhouseDanforth Avenue and Coxwell Avenue19152002built for the Toronto Civic Railways
Dundas Carhouse [1]Dundas Street West and Howard Park Avenue19071936storage for 60 cars; wye and runaround loop since disappeared and area re-developed
Eglinton CarhouseEglinton Avenue West and Yonge Street19222002; demolished
Lansdowne CarhouseLansdowne Avenue and Paton Avenue19111996; demolished 2003Built for the Toronto Railway Company
St. Clair (Wychwood) CarhouseWychwood south of St. Clair Avenue West19131978Built for the Toronto Civic Railways. Converted into the Wychwood Barns community centre.

Source: The TTC's Active Carhouses

A new carhouse is to be constructed for housing and maintaining the new Bombardier Flexity Outlook vehicles; the existing facilities will not accommodate the differences in length and configuration of the different generations of vehicle. A preliminary report recommends a vacant lot at the southeast corner of Leslie Street and Lake Shore Boulevard.[30]

Facility details
 Yard  Location  Year To Open  Notes 
Ashbridge's Bay LRV Maintenance and Storage Facility or Leslie BarnsLeslie Street and Lake Shore Boulevard East - southeast cornerTBDproposed carhouse for Flexity fleet (100 of the 204 cars)[31]
Black Creek Maintenance and Storage FacilityBlack Creek Drive and Eglinton Avenue West - northwest corner (former Kodak property)TBDproposed carhouse for Flexity fleet for the Eglinton Crosstown line
Scarborough Maintenance and Storage FacilityTBDTBDproposed second carhouse for Flexity fleet for the Eglinton Crosstown line

Operator training[edit]

The TTC's LRV training simulator, located at the Hillcrest Complex.

A mockup of a CLRV used to train new streetcar operators is located at Hillcrest.[32] The training simulator consists of an operator cab, front steps and part of the front of a streetcar.

In September 2014, Chris Bateman, writing in the Toronto Life magazine, described being allowed to try out the new simulator designed for the Flexity vehicles.[32] It provides an accurate mockup of the driver's cab of the Flexity vehicle, with a wrap-around computer screen that provides a convincing simulcra of Toronto streets. Like an aircraft cockpit simulator that Flexity simulator provides realistic tactile feedback to the driver-trainee. The trainer can alter the simulated weather, the track friction, and can introduce more simulated vehicles on the simulated roadway, and even have badly behaved pedestrians and vehicles unpredictably block the Flexity's path.

Bateman wrote that the analogue simulator for the CLRVs was being retired.[32]

Operators also train with a real streetcar. Front and rear rollsigns on the vehicle identify it as a training car.


Given that the TTC's streetcar rolling stock has been ageing, many parts used by the rolling stock are no longer available. The system has a blacksmith who crafts parts and tools used to maintain the fleet.[33] With the introduction of the new Flexity LRVs, this job may become obsolete.

See also[edit]


Inline citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Toronto's Streetcar Network - Past to Present - History". 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "2013 TTC Operating Statistics". Toronto Transit Commission. 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-04. 
  3. ^ "Transit Ridership Report Second Quarter 2014" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association (APTA) (via: ). August 27, 2014. p. 34. Retrieved 2014-10-04. 
  4. ^ "Public Transportation Ridership Report Fourth Quarter 2013" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association (APTA) (via: ). February 26, 2014. p. 31. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  5. ^ The Canadian Light Rail Vehicles - Transit Toronto
  6. ^ "The great Toronto streetcar debate". Toronto Star. July 15, 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
  7. ^ William Bragg (November 13, 1967). "Our Streetcars are Near the End of the Line". Toronto Star. p. 7. 
  8. ^ Craig Cal. "'Streetcars for Toronto' – 35th Anniversary" Spacing December 1, 2007.
  9. ^ Lloyd Alter (2013-11-25). "Streetcars save cities: A look at 100 years of a Toronto streetcar line". TreeHugger. Archived from the original on 2013-11-25. Retrieved 2013-11-25. A hundred years ago, a new streetcar line was installed on St. Clair Avenue in Toronto in a dedicated right-of-way. In 1928 they got rid of the right-of-way to make more room for cars; In 2006 they rebuilt it again, putting the right of way back. 
  10. ^ "Mayor Rob Ford: “Transit City is over”". Toronto Life. December 1, 2010. 
  11. ^ Tess Kalinowski; David Rider (December 2, 2010). "‘War on the car is over’: Ford moves transit underground". Toronto Star. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "Funding questions linger after new transit plan announced" By Natalie Alcoba, National Post. March 31, 2011
  13. ^ Schoolchildren returning from field trip hurt in streetcar crash: report
  14. ^ Bow, James (2006-11-10). "Route 509 - The New Harbourfront Streetcar". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  15. ^ Route 512 - The St Clair Streetcar
  16. ^
  17. ^ Kalinowski, Tess (30 June 2010). "Finally, St. Clair streetcar fully restored". The Star (Toronto). 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Transit City". City of Toronto. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  20. ^ Tess Kalinowski (2007-12-11). "Transit-first street plan hailed". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2012-07-19. Unlike Toronto's other streetcar routes, which traditionally run in mixed traffic and board passengers from platforms in the middle of the road, the Cherry St. plan calls for putting all the transit on the east side of the street, running in two directions, with a tree-lined platform separating it from other traffic.  "Two figures incorrect in Cherry St. transit plan". Toronto Star. 2007-12-12. Retrieved 2012-07-19. The transitway envisioned for this section is 700 metres. 
  21. ^ "STREETCARS ON CHERRY STREET AND SUMACH STREET SERVING THE WEST DON LANDS DEVELOPMENT". Toronto Transit Commission. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  22. ^ Adrian Morrow (2012-05-25). "A tiny perfect streetcar line is being laid along Cherry Street". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2012-07-19. There’s a new streetcar line under construction in Toronto, the first in more than a decade and a surprising development during the tenure of a mayor who is outspokenly opposed to light rail. 
  23. ^ John F. Bromley (25 October 2001). "Toronto Street Railway Routes". Transit Canada. Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  24. ^ Pursley, Louis H. (1958). Street Railways of Toronto: 1861–1921. Los Angeles: Interurbans Press. pp. 39–45. 
  25. ^ James Bow (2012-04-03). "The Ashbridge Streetcar (Deceased)". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 2012-07-19. 
  26. ^ "The Toronto Civic Railways", UCRS Bulletin (Toronto: Upper Canada Railway Society) (26): 1–2 
  27. ^ a b Tess Kalinowski (2010-01-06). "Transit City measures up to international standard". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2013-08-06. TTC gauge is `English carriage gauge' and was used in Toronto well before the TTC was formed," explains transit blogger Steve Munro. "There were two purposes: One was to make it impossible for the steam railways to use city tracks and the other (alleged) was to allow carriages and wagons to drive on the tracks when roads were impassable due to mud. 
  28. ^ "FAQ - STREETCARS", Transit Toronto, 3 January 2003
  29. ^ a b "Transit City measures up to international standard". Toronto Star. January 6, 2010. Retrieved 2014-10-04. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Ashbridges Bay Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) Maintenance and Storage Facility". Toronto Transit Commission. May 2010. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  32. ^ a b c Chris Bateman (2014-09-29). "The TTC’s new life-sized streetcar simulator is not a toy—but it looks like one". Toronto Life. Archived from the original on 2014-09-30. Halfway down a long corridor inside the TTC’s Hillcrest facility, on Bathurst Street, there’s a room marked “streetcar simulator.” Inside is a state-of-the-art training device on which the next generation of TTC streetcar drivers will earn their wheels. 
  33. ^

Other references[edit]

External links[edit]