The Toronto streetcar system is a network of eleven streetcar routes in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). It is both the largest and busiest light-rail system in North America as well as the largest tramway in the Americas in terms of ridership, rolling stock, and track length. The network is concentrated primarily in Downtown Toronto and in proximity to the city's waterfront. Much of the streetcar route network dates from the 19th century. Most of Toronto's streetcar routes operate on street trackage shared with vehicular traffic, and streetcars stop on demand at frequent stops like buses.

Toronto's streetcars provide most of the downtown core's surface transit service. Four of the TTC's five most heavily used surface routes are streetcar routes. In 2016, ridership on the streetcar system totalled more than 95 million.[4]


Early history (1861–1945)

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 (City) 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 government 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 forced 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 1923, the TTC took over the Lambton, Davenport and Weston routes of the Toronto Suburban Railway (TSR) and integrated them into the streetcar system.

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. One of these routes was the former TSR Weston route.

In 1927, the TTC became the operator of three radial lines of the former Toronto and York Radial Railway. The TTC connected these lines to the streetcar system in order to share equipment and facilities, such as carhouses, but the radials had their own separate management within the TTC's Radial Department. The last TTC-operated radial (North Yonge Railways) closed in 1948.

Abandonment plans (1945–1989)

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, many cities across North America and Europe[7] began to eliminate their streetcar systems in favour of buses. 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".[8] Many streetcars were removed from service when Line 2 Bloor–Danforth 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. It 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.[9][10]

The TTC then maintained most of its existing network, purchasing new custom-designed Canadian Light Rail Vehicles (CLRV) and Articulated Light Rail Vehicles (ALRV). It also continued to rebuild and maintain the existing fleet of PCC (Presidents' Conference Committee) streetcars until they were no longer roadworthy.

The busiest north–south and east–west routes were replaced respectively by the Yonge–University and the Bloor–Danforth subway line, and the northernmost streetcar lines, including the North Yonge and Oakwood routes, were replaced by trolley buses (and later by diesel buses).

Two 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.[11] The Mount Pleasant route was removed because of complaints that streetcars slowed automobile traffic. Earlier, the TTC had contemplated abandonment because replacement by trolley buses was cheaper than replacing the aging tracks.[12]

When Kipling station opened in 1980 as the new western terminus of Line 2 Bloor–Danforth, it had provision for a future streetcar or LRT platform opposite the bus platforms. However, there was no further development for a surface rail connection there.[13]

In the early 1980s, a streetcar line was planned to connect Kennedy station to Scarborough Town Centre. However, as that line was being built, the Province of Ontario persuaded the TTC to switch to using a new technology called the Intermediate Capacity Transit System (now Bombardier Innovia Metro) by promising to pay for any cost overruns (which eventually amounted to over $100 million). Thus, the Scarborough RT (now Line 3 Scarborough) was born, and streetcar service did not return to Scarborough.[14]

Expansion period (1989–2000)

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 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 refurbished Exhibition Loop at the Exhibition grounds, where the Canadian National Exhibition is held.

21st century (2001–present)

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

By 2003, two-thirds of the city's streetcar tracks were in poor condition as the older track was poorly built using unwelded rail attached to untreated wooden ties lying on loose gravel. The result was street trackage falling apart quickly requiring digging up everything after 10–15 years. Thus, the TTC started to rebuild tracks using a different technique. With the new technique, concrete is poured over compacted gravel, and the ties are placed in another bed of concrete, which is topped by more concrete to embed rail clips and rubber-encased rails. The resulting rail is more stable and quieter with less vibration. The new tracks are expected to last 25 years after which only the top concrete layer needs to be removed in order to replace worn rails.[15] [16]

Route 512 St. Clair was rebuilt to restore a separated right-of-way similar to that of the 510 on Spadina Avenue, to increase service reliability and was completed on June 30, 2010.[17]

On December 19, 2010, 504 King streetcar service returned to Roncesvalles Avenue after the street was rebuilt to a new design which provided a widened sidewalk "bumpout" at each stop to allow riders to board a streetcar directly from the curb. When no streetcar is present, cyclists may ride over the bumpout as it is doubles as part of a bike lane.[18][19]

On October 12, 2014, streetcar service resumed on 509 Harbourfront route after the street was rebuilt to a new design that replaced the eastbound auto lanes with parkland from Spadina Avenue to York Street. Thus, streetcars since then run on a roadside right-of-way immediately adjacent to a park on its southern edge.[20]

The Toronto Transit Commission eliminated all Sunday stops on June 7, 2015, as these stops slowed down streetcars making it more difficult to meet scheduled stops. Sunday stops, which served Christian churches, were deemed unfair to non-Christian places of worship, which never had the equivalent of a Sunday stop. Toronto created Sunday stops in the 1920s along its streetcar routes to help worshippers get to church on Sunday.[21]

On November 22, 2015, the TTC started to operate its new fleet of Flexity streetcars from its new Leslie Barns maintenance and storage facility.[22]

On December 14, 2015, the TTC introduced Presto, proof-of-payment and all door loading for all streetcars on all routes. All streetcar passengers are required to carry proof that they have paid their fares such as a validated TTC ticket, paper transfer, pass or Presto card while riding.[23]

Car 4409 on Cherry Street. As of March 2018, the 514 is one of only 3 TTC streetcar services to use the new low-floor Flexity Outlook vehicles exclusively.

With the January 3, 2016, service changes, 510 Spadina became the first wheelchair-accessible streetcar route. All CLRV streetcars were expected to be withdrawn from the route, thus leaving only Flexity streetcars operating. However, CLRV and ALRV streetcars will be used as backup in the event of an insufficient availability of Flexity streetcars.[24]

On June 19, 2016, the TTC launched a new streetcar route operating (alongside route 504 King) along King Street between Dufferin and Sumach streets, dubbed the 514 Cherry. The route operates every 15 minutes or better, and uses the Commission's new accessible Flexity streetcars.[25] The eastern end of the new route runs over the Cherry Street streetcar line, a branch constructed starting in 2012 and running on a reserved side-of-street right-of-way.[26]


On December 16, 2010, the TTC suffered its worst accident since the Russell Hill subway crash in 1995. Up to 17 people were sent to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries after a 505 Dundas streetcar heading eastbound collided with a Greyhound bus at Dundas and River Streets.[27]


The TTC streetcar network in early 2016, in relation to the subway. Of the 11 regular routes, the newest – 514 Cherry – became operational in June 2016.

Based on 2013 statistics, the TTC operated 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, with the newest – 514 Cherry – having launched on June 18, 2016:[28]

Name Full Length Notes Fleet[29]
501 Queen 24.4324.43 km (15.18 mi) Part of Blue Night Network as 301 Queen. CLRV, ALRV, Buses
502 Downtowner 09.389.38 km (5.83 mi) Rush hour service only.[30] Buses
503 Kingston Rd 08.978.97 km (5.57 mi) Operates Monday to Friday during the daytime; 22A Coxwell bus takes over in the evenings and on weekends.[30] CLRV
504 King 13.9713.97 km (8.68 mi) Part of the Blue Night Network service as 304 King since September 6, 2015. CLRV, Flexity[31]
505 Dundas 10.7410.74 km (6.67 mi) Buses
506 Carlton 14.8214.82 km (9.21 mi) Part of Blue Night Network as 306 Carlton Buses
509 Harbourfront 04.654.65 km (2.89 mi) Route operates on a dedicated right-of-way. Flexity
510 Spadina 06.176.17 km (3.83 mi) Route operates on a dedicated right-of-way, part of the Blue Night Network service since September 6, 2015, first as 317 Spadina before being renumbered 310 Spadina on September 3, 2017. Flexity
511 Bathurst 06.476.47 km (4.02 mi) Seasonally uses larger larger vehicles (ALRV, Flexity) to handle Exhibition Place crowds. CLRV
512 St. Clair 07.017.01 km (4.36 mi) Route reconstructed to a dedicated right-of-way (completed on June 30, 2010) CLRV, Flexity
514 Cherry 07.017.01 km (4.36 mi) Launched June 18, 2016.[28]
Overlaps and supplements route 504 King through the downtown area between Dufferin and Sumach streets.[32][33]

As of 2017, delivery problems with the new Flexity LRVs led to a shortage of streetcars.[34] Because of that shortage, as well as construction projects, some streetcar routes are temporarily replaced partly or entirely with buses.[35]

Some routes operate wholly or partly within their own rights-of-way, and stop on demand at frequent stops.

Route numbers

Until 1980, streetcar routes had names but not numbers. When the CLRVs were introduced, the TTC assigned route numbers in the 500 series. CLRVs have a single front rollsign showing various combinations of route number and destination, while PCC streetcars showed a route identifier (route name until the 1980s and later route number) and destination on two separate front rollsigns.[36] The digital destination signs on the new Flexity Outlook streetcars show route number, route name and destination.[37] Like the CLRVs, streetcar-replacement bus services indicate route number and destination but not route name.

The four streetcar-operated Blue Night Network routes have been assigned 300-series route numbers. The 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'. The number was changed to 510. The tracks were later extended in two directions to form the 510 Spadina and 509 Harbourfront routes.[38]

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, lack of available streetcars), the replacement bus service is typically identified by the same route number as the corresponding streetcar line.

Subway connections

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 the eight downtown stations, excepting Union, from Queen's Park to College on Line 1 Yonge–University, streetcars stop on the street outside the station entrances. Union station serves as the hub for both the TTC as well as the GO train system.

Dedicated rights-of-way

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[39] — 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 mid-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 mid-2007 from Dufferin Street to Caledonia Road. Service resumed using 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 Earlscourt Loop 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.[40][41]

Between September 2007 and March 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.[42][43]

The eastern portion of the 514 Cherry route runs on a side-of-street right-of-way. It was constructed starting in 2012 to support redevelopment in the West Don Lands and the Distillery District, former industrial areas.[25][26]

As part of the King Street Pilot Project, a temporary transit mall was set up along King Street for a one-year trial period starting in mid-November 2017. Although not a dedicated right-of-way, the transit mall achieves the goal of preventing road traffic from impeding streetcar service. Road traffic is discouraged from using the mall by being forced to leave the mall via a right turn at most signalized intersections.[44]

Future expansion

Transit City

The City of Toronto's and the TTC's Transit City report[45] released on March 16, 2007, proposed creating new light rail lines. These are mainly separate from the streetcar network as the track gauge and vehicle specifications are quite different. Much of the original proposal has since been cancelled, and those light-rail lines that are proceeding are classified as part of the Toronto subway system.

Other proposals

The following are proposals to expand the streetcar system that were under consideration in 2015:

Discontinued streetcar routes

Toronto Street Railway

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.[48]

Route Started Ended Notes
Bathurst 00 September 1889 December 7, 1889 to "Seaton Village"
Bloor May 29, 1891 to City
Brockton September 4, 1883 00 May 1884 from "Queen & Brockton"; to "Queen & Brockton"
Carlton & College August 2, 1886 to City
Church August 18, 1881 to City
Danforth July 8, 1889 to City
Davenport August 18, 1890 to City from "Seaton Village"
Dovercourt via McCaul September 24, 1888 to City from "McCaul & College"
Front & McCaul October 22, 1883 June 28, 1884 to "McCaul & College"
Front & Parliament November 25, 1878 July 25, 1881 to "Parliament" and "Winchester"
High Park via Queen 00 April 1887 to City by this date; from "Queen & Parkdale"
King September 21, 1874 to City longest continuously operated route in Toronto
King via Strachan September 2, 1879 September 19, 1890 during Toronto Industrial Exhibition only; to "King"
Kingston Rd. June 9, 1875 00 April 1887 Kingston Road Tramway Co.; by this date; part to "Woodbine"
Lee July 15, 1889 to City
McCaul & College June 30, 1884 September 22, 1888 from "Front & McCaul"; to "Dovercourt via McCaul"
McCaul & College July 15, 1889 to City from "Dovercourt via McCaul"
Metropolitan January 26, 1885 to City Metropolitan Street Railway
Parliament July 26, 1881 to City from "Front & Parliament"
Queen February 2, 1861 December 7, 1881 to "Queen & Brockton"
Queen September 4, 1883 00 May 1884 from "Queen & Brockton"; to "Queen & Brockton"
Queen & Brockton December 8, 1881 September 3, 1883 from "Queen"; to "Queen & Brockton"
Queen & Brockton 00 May 1884 to City from "Brockton" and "Queen"
Queen & Parkdale September 2, 1879 00 April 1887 ended by Q2 1887; to "High Park via Queen"
Queen East May 11, 1885 to City from "Sherbourne"
Seaton Village July 27, 1885 to City from "Spadina & Bathurst"
Sherbourne December 1, 1874 to City may have begun a day or two earlier
Spadina 00 June 1879 to City
Spadina & Bathurst June 30, 1884 July 25, 1885 from "Spadina"; to "Seaton Village"
Toronto Industrial Exhibition September 13, 1883 September 19, 1890 first electric route; operated by steam during the 1891 season
Winchester July 26, 1881 to City from "Front & Parliament"
Woodbine May 21, 1887 to City from "Kingston Rd."
Yonge November 9, 1861 to City first rail transit route in Toronto

Toronto Railway Company

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.[49]

Route Started Ended Notes
Arthur 1902-02-12 February 12, 1902 1909-00-00 1909 merged with "Dundas"
Ashbridge 1917-11-05 November 5, 1917 to TTC replaced by bus service in the 1920s.[50]
Avenue Road 1895-19-02 September 2, 1895 to TTC
Bathurst 1885-07-27 July 27, 1885 to TTC
Belt Line 1891-11-16 November 16, 1891 to TTC
Bloor 1889-00-00 1889 to TTC
Broadview 1892-10-00 October 1892 to TTC
Brockton 1882-00-00 1882 1893-10-09 October 9, 1893 renamed "Dundas"
Carlton 1886-08-00 August 1886 to TTC
Church 1881-00-00 1881 to TTC
College 1893-11-00 November 1893 to TTC
Danforth 1889-05-00 May 1889 1892-10-00 October 1892 renamed "Broadview"
Davenport 1892-12-00 December 1892 1891-11-00 November 1891 replaced by "Bathurst", "Parliament" and "Winchester"
Dovercourt 1888-11-00 November 1888 to TTC
Dufferin 1889-00-00 1889 1891-09-30 September 30, 1891 merged with "Danforth"
Dundas 1893-10-09 October 9, 1893 to TTC
Dupont 1906-08-29 August 29, 1906 to TTC
Harbord 1911-08-29 August 29, 1911 to TTC
High Park 1886-00-00 1886 1905-00-00 1905
King 1874-00-00 1874 to TTC
Lee Avenue 1889-0—00 1889 1893-05-15 May 15, 1893 merged into "King"
McCaul 1883-10-00 October 1883 1896-01-01 January 1, 1896 replaced by "Bloor"
Parkdale 1880-00-00 1880 1886-00-00 1886 renamed "High Park"
Parliament 1881-00-00 1881 1918-03-04 March 4, 1918 merged into "Queen"
Queen 1861-12-02 December 2, 1861 to TTC
Queen East 1882-00-00 1882 1891-10-16 October 16, 1891 merged with "Danforth"
Roncesvalles 1909-00-00 1909 1911-12-20 December 20, 1911 replaced by "Queen"
Seaton Village 1885-07-27 July 27, 1885 1891-10-23 October 23, 1891 replaced by "Davenport", "Parliament" and "Winchester"
Sherbourne 1874-11-00 November 1874 1891-11-16 November 16, 1891 merged into "Belt Line"
Spadina 1878-00-00 1878 1891-11-16 November 16, 1891 merged into "Belt Line"
Winchester 1874-11-00 November 1874 to TTC
Woodbine 1887-05-00 May 1887 1893-04-04 April 4, 1893 replaced by "King"
Yonge 1861-09-11 September 11, 1861 to TTC
York 1891-10-00 1891-12-31 in operation in October 1891 and discontinued prior to December 31, 1891

Toronto Civic Railways

All routes transferred to the Toronto Transportation Commission.[51]

Route Started Ended Notes
Bloor 1914-11-04 November 4, 1914 to TTC TCR and TRC Bloor routes merge into Broadview route and later replaced by Bloor–Danforth subway 1966
Danforth 1913-10-30 October 30, 1913 to TTC Same name, merged with Bloor route and finally replaced by Bloor–Danforth subway 1966
Gerrard 1912-12-18 December 18, 1912 to TTC Merger as Gerrard-Main route and later merged in Carlton route (now 506 Carlton)
Lansdowne 1917-01-16 January 16, 1917 to TTC Two streetcar routes: Lansdowne (replaced by trolleybus route 1942) and Lansdowne North (replaced by Lansdowne North bus 1925); now part of 47 Lansdowne bus route
St. Clair 1913-08-25 August 25, 1913 to TTC Same route as St. Clair route (now 512 St. Clair)

Toronto Transportation Commission/Toronto Transit Commission

Route Began Ended Number Notes
Belt Line 1891 1923 After 1923, Spadina, Bloor, King and Sherbourne streetcar routes took over operations. Only King and Spadina are still streetcar routes with the remainder replaced by subway or bus service.
Bloor 1890 1966 Ran multiple unit (MU) cars from 1950 to 1966 and then replaced by Line 2 Bloor–Danforth subway
Coxwell 1921 1966 replaced by 22 Coxwell bus
Dundas Exhibition 1980 1986 522 Also operated during the 1995 season and the 2013 Canadian National Exhibition.
Dupont/Bay 1926 1963 Replaced by 6 Bay bus
Earlscourt 1954 1976 Merged into 512 St. Clair; assigned number 512L
Fort 1931 1966 Merged into 511 Bathurst
Harbord 1911 1966 Replaced by 72 Pape and 94 Wellesley buses
Harbourfront 1990 2000 604 Renumbered as 509 Harbourfront
King Exhibition 1980 2000 521 Temporarily reinstated in 2013, and operating as 521 Exhibition East
Lake Shore 1995 2015 508 Cancelled due to streetcar shortage. Queen section now served by 501 Queen and King section by 504 King.
Long Branch 1928 1995 507 Merged in 501 Queen
Oakwood 1922 1960 Replaced by 63 Ossington trolleycoach (converted to diesel bus route in 1992 when trolleybus fleet retired)
Parliament 1910 1966 Replaced by 65 Parliament bus
Spadina 1923 1948 replaced by the 77 Spadina bus; later replaced by the 510 Spadina streetcar in 1997
Winchester 1910 1924 Replaced by Yonge and Parliament streetcars (former replaced by subway in 1954 and latter by bus route in 1966); bus route from Parliament Street east to Sumach Street from 1924 to 1930.
Mount Pleasant 1975 1976 Split from 512 St. Clair; Replaced by 74 Mt. Pleasant trolleycoach until 1991; diesel bus route from St. Clair Station to Mt. Pleasant Loop just north of Eglinton 1976–1977; diesel bus route since 1991
Rogers Road 1922 1974 Replaced by 63F Ossington via Rogers trolleycoach, 48 Humber Blvd from 1974 to 1994 and diesel buses from 1992 onwards. In 1994, 161 Rogers Road service replaced both 63F Ossington and 48 Humber Blvd.
Yonge 1861 1954 Replaced by Line 1 Yonge–University subway, Downtown bus (97 Yonge beginning in 1956), and Yonge trolleycoach until 1973 (replaced with diesel buses).

Rolling stock

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.

In the 1920s, the TTC purchased new Peter Witt streetcars, and they remained in use into the 1960s. In 1938 the TTC started to operate its first Presidents' Conference Cars (PCC), eventually operating more than any other city in North America. The last of these vehicles was retired from full-time revenue service in the 1990s, after new Canadian Light Rail Vehicles entered service.

On August 31, 2014, the TTC started operating its first Bombardier Flexity Outlook vehicles. Older vehicles are being gradually retired from service as more of these new vehicles arrive and enter service.

Streetcars purchased by the TTC

Note that not all numbers within a series were used.

Fleet numbers Type In service Notes
Peter Witt 1921–1954 "large" Witts; even numbers only
2700–2898 Peter Witt 1922–1965 "small" Witts; even numbers only. 2766 retained for charters and summer service.
2301–2419 2-door trailer 1921–1938 odd numbers only
2701–3029 3-door trailer 1923–1954 "Harvey" trailers; odd numbers only
PCC 1938–1971 air-electric
PCC 1947–1995 all-electric, PCC 4500 and 4549 restored and still maintained[52]
4900 ALRV 1982–1983 prototype; never owned by TTC but by UTDC; used on TTC test runs and returned (later scrapped); painted with similar TTC scheme
4000–4199 CLRV 1977–present will be phased out as Flexity Outlooks start entering service in 2014. 41 cars retired.
4200–4251 ALRV 1987–present articulated; will be phased out when Flexity Outlook start entering service in 2014. 9 cars retired.
4400–4603 Flexity 2014–present 2013: testing; 2014–present: revenue service

Winter operational issues

The fleet of CLRV and ALRV experienced operational issues during extreme cold temperatures in early 2015 as doors and brakes failed as moisture in the pneumatic lines froze. Moisture also caused track sanders to fail. Buses were used to replace streetcars unfit for service, some of which had failed while in service. The new Flexity cars which use electronic braking and door operations were unaffected by the weather.[53][54] Cold temperatures in late 2017 and early 2018 caused the same mechanical failures, making about a third of the legacy streetcars inoperable, necessitating the use of buses to cover the shortfall.[55][56]

Track gauge

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 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge, which Line 3 Scarborough uses.[57] According to Steve Munro, 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.[58]

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.[57]

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.

Besides the Toronto streetcar and subway systems, the Halton County Radial Railway uses the Toronto gauge of 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) for its museum streetcar line.


Before TTC ownership, however, the streetcar gauge was either 4 ft 10 34 in (1,492 mm) or 4 ft 11 in (1,499 mm), depending on the historical source, instead of today's 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm).

According to Raymond L. Kennedy said: "The street railways were built to the horse car gauge of 4 feet 10 and 3/4 inches. (The TTC changed this to 4 10 7/8 and is still in use today even on the subway. [sic])"[59] James V. Salmon said the "city gauge" was 4 ft 10 3⁄4 in.[60] Both these sources were describing a former streetcar junction at the intersection of Dundas and Keele Streets laid entirely to Toronto streetcar gauge until August 1912. The junction was used by both the Toronto Suburban Railway and the Toronto Railway Company.

However, Ken Heard, Consultant Museologist, Canadian Museums Association, was reported to say: "One of the terms of these agreements was that the track gauge was to accommodate wagons. As horse car rail was step rail, the horse cars, equipped with iron wheels with flanges on the inside, ran on the outer, or upper step of the rail. Wagon wheels naturally did not have a flange. They were made of wood, with an iron tire. Wagons would use the inner, or lower step of the rail. The upper step of the rail guided the wagons on the track. In order to accommodate this arrangement, the track gauge had to be 4 feet, 11 inches. As the streets themselves were not paved, this arrangement permitted wagons carrying heavy loads a stable roadbed."[58] In support of Heard's statement about the pre-TTC gauge, the Charter of the Toronto Railway Company said "the gauge of system (4 ft. 11 in.) is to be maintained on main lines and extensions thereof".[61]


Track map of TTC network containing loops, stops, subway and GO Transit stations as of 2011

Dedicated station

Queens Quay is the one standalone underground station that does not connect to the subway. It is located in the tunnel, shared by the 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina routes, between Queens Quay West and Union subway station.


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 Complex Davenport Road and Bathurst Street 1924 Newly built by TTC on former site of farm and later Toronto Driving Club track; services streetcars and buses, repair facilities
Roncesvalles Carhouse Queen Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue 1895 (for TRC); rebuilt 1921 (by TTC) Property acquired Toronto Railway Company, but new carbarn built in 1921 with indoor inspection and repair facility and outdoor streetcar storage tracks
Russell (Connaught Avenue) Carhouse Connaught Avenue and Queen Street East 1913 (by TRC and 1916 carhouse added); 1924 (rebuilt by TTC) Built for the Toronto Railway Company as paint shop and 1916 carhouse built to replace King carhouse lost to a fire in 1916; acquired by the TTC in 1921 and rebuilt in 1924 with indoor maintenance facility and outdoor streetcar storage tracks
Leslie Barns Leslie Street and Lake Shore Boulevard East – southeast corner November 2015 Carhouse opened November 2015 and receiving some of Flexity fleet (100 of the 204 cars)[62] It was fully opened in early 2016.

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

Facility details
Yard Location Year Open Year Closed Notes
Danforth Carhouse Danforth Avenue and Coxwell Avenue 1915; 1921–22 (additions by TTC) 2002 built for the Toronto Civic Railways in 1915 and additional indoor storage added by TTC in 1921–22; re-purposed as bus garage in 1967; closed in 1921 but still used by TTC for storage and office space
Dundas Carhouse [1] Dundas Street West and Howard Park Avenue 1907 1936 Original acquired from TRC (built in 1907), but carhouse was demolished in 1921 but retained for storage for 60 cars; wye and runaround loop since disappeared and area re-developed with cars moving to Roncesvalles
Eglinton (Yonge) Carhouse Eglinton Avenue West and Yonge Street 1922 2002; demolished Built to replace TRC Yorkville Carhouse and retired as carhouse in 1948 to become bus garage until 2002; most of facility now demolished and remainder used as temporary bus terminal
George Street Yard 170 The Esplanade East 1894? 1960s Used to store and scrap streetcars; now part of David Crombie Park built along with the St. Lawrence housing project (built between 1960s to 1990s)
Harbour Yard Lakeshore Boulevard between Bay and York Streets 1951 1954 Built as temporary outdoor storage space for Peter Witt cars after Eglinton Carhouse closed to streetcars; tracks removed 1954; now site of parking lot and office towers
Lansdowne Carhouse Lansdowne Avenue and Paton Avenue 1911 1996; demolished 2003 Built for the Toronto Railway Company and acquired by TTC in 1921; became a trolley bus garage in 1947 and streetcar storage ended 1967; abandoned after 1996 and demolished 2003
TRC Motor Shops 165 Front Street East 1886–1887 1924 Built for Toronto Street Railway near St Lawrence Market as horse stables and became electrical generating plant 1891 after horsecar converted to electric car operations by Toronto Railway Company; later as storage space 1906 and acquired by TTC in 1921; used until 1924 and deemed surplus in 1970s; sold to Young People's Theatre 1977
St. Clair (Wychwood) Carhouse Wychwood south of St. Clair Avenue West 1914 1978 Built for the Toronto Civic Railways in 1914 and expanded 1916. Acquired by TTC in 1921 with renovations and renamed as Wychwood Barns; closed in 1978 after cars moved to Roncesvalles but continued to be used for storage until the 1990s; tracks removed and restored as community centre.
Yorkville Carhouse Between Scollard Street and Yorkville Avenue west of Yonge Street 1861 1922 Built in 1861 for Toronto Street Railway and acquired by TRC in 1891, the two-storey carhouse was closed by TTC in 1922; later demolished and now site of condominium and Townhall Square Park

Source: The TTC's Active Carhouses

Operator training

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.[63] 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.[63] 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, this 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.[63]

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.[64] With the introduction of the new Flexity LRVs, this job may become obsolete.

See also


Inline citations

  1. ^ a b c "Toronto's Streetcar Network – Past to Present – History". 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "2013 TTC Operating Statistics". Toronto Transit Commission. 2014. Retrieved October 4, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Public Transportation Ridership Report Fourth Quarter 2016" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association (APTA). March 3, 2017. p. 34. Retrieved November 12, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Public Transportation Ridership Report Fourth Quarter 2016" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association (APTA). March 3, 2017. p. 31. Retrieved November 12, 2017. 
  5. ^ http://www.urbanrail.net/am/toro/tram/toronto-tram.htm
  6. ^ The Canadian Light Rail Vehicles – Transit Toronto
  7. ^ Costa, Alvaro; Fernandes, Ruben (February 2012). "Urban public transport in Europe: Technology diffusion and market organisation". Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice. 46 (2): 269–284. doi:10.1016/j.tra.2011.09.002. Retrieved February 13, 2015. 
  8. ^ Bragg, William (November 13, 1967). "Our Streetcars are Near the End of the Line". Toronto Star. p. 7. 
  9. ^ Thompson, John (April 5, 2017). "Renewing TTC's surface-running streetcar track". Railway Age. Retrieved April 7, 2017. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) owns and operates more than 200 single-track miles of surface streetcar track, including loops, yards and carhouses. 
  10. ^ Cal, Craig (December 1, 2007). "Streetcars for Toronto – 35th Anniversary". Spacing. 
  11. ^ Bow, James (August 14, 2017). "The Township of York Railways (Deceased)". Transit Toronto. Retrieved October 20, 2017. 
  12. ^ Bow, James (April 21, 2013). "The Mount Pleasant Streetcar (Deceased)". Transit Toronto. Retrieved October 20, 2017. 
  13. ^ "Kipling". Transit Toronto. Retrieved December 14, 2017. A cutaway of the elevations of Kipling and Kennedy station, showing planned LRT platforms. Image courtesy the Toronto Archives and Nathan Ng's Station Fixation web site. 
  14. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions About Toronto's Subway And The Scarborough RT". Transit Toronto. July 20, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017. Why was the Kennedy RT station renovated so soon after it was built? 
  15. ^ Munro, Steve (October 25, 2009). "Streetcar Track Replacement Plan 2010–2014". Steve Munro. Retrieved October 25, 2009. 
  16. ^ Abbate, Gay (July 14, 2003). "State of tracks forces streetcars to crawl". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved July 14, 2003. 
  17. ^ Alter, Lloyd (November 25, 2013). "Streetcars save cities: A look at 100 years of a Toronto streetcar line". TreeHugger. Archived from the original on November 26, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 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. 
  18. ^ "Lanes, tracks and bikes". Roncesvalles Village BIA. 
  19. ^ Munro, Steve (December 19, 2010). "Parliament and Roncesvalles 2010 Track Work". Steve Munro. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  20. ^ Munro, Steve (October 12, 2014). "Streetcars Return to Queens Quay". Steve Munro. Retrieved October 12, 2014. 
  21. ^ Andrew-Gee, Eric (May 7, 2015). "Sunday streetcar stops near churches to be shuttered in June". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  22. ^ "TTC's new streetcar facility to enter service this Sunday". Toronto Transit Commission. November 20, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Proof-of-Payment (POP)". Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved December 6, 2015. 
  24. ^ Munro, Steve (December 4, 2015). "TTC Service Changes Effective January 3, 2016". Retrieved December 6, 2015. 
  25. ^ a b "Introducing 514 Cherry". Toronto Transit Commission. June 20, 2016. Retrieved December 14, 2017. 
  26. ^ a b Morrow, Adrian (May 25, 2012). "A tiny perfect streetcar line is being laid along Cherry Street". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 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. 
  27. ^ Schoolchildren returning from field trip hurt in streetcar crash: report
  28. ^ a b Doherty, Brennan (June 18, 2016). "TTC launches new 514 Cherry St. streetcar route". thestar.com. Toronto Star. Retrieved June 18, 2016. 
  29. ^ "February 18, 2018 to March 31, 2018" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. February 18, 2018. Retrieved February 7, 2018. 
  30. ^ a b "503 Kingston Rd - Service change - King Street Transit Pilot". Toronto Transit Commission. February 19, 2018. Retrieved February 6, 2018. 
  31. ^ Harris, Tamar; Spurr, Ben (December 4, 2017). "King St. pilot project has slashed streetcar travel times, statistics show". Toronto Star. Retrieved December 5, 2017. 
  32. ^ "Relief could be coming to King streetcar in June". CBC News. March 16, 2016. Retrieved March 16, 2016. A report made public Wednesday recommends that the new route begin service on June 19. It would operate between the Distillery Loop in the east and the Dufferin Gates loop in the west via Cherry, King and Dufferin streets. 
  33. ^ "Improved_Transit_Service_in_EastCentral_Downtown_514_Cherry_.pdf" (PDF). TTC.ca. Toronto Transit Commission. March 23, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2016. 
  34. ^ Byford, Andy (December 20, 2016). "New Streetcar Delivery and Claim Negotiation Update" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved April 4, 2017. 
  35. ^ "Accessible streetcar service updates". Toronto Transit Commission. November 12, 2017. Retrieved December 13, 2017. 
  36. ^ Bow, James (February 7, 2017). "The Canadian Light Rail Vehicles (The CLRVs)". Transit Toronto. Retrieved October 21, 2017. Some Torontonians also didn't like it when the streetcar route names like QUEEN and KING were removed from the front rollsigns, in favour of route numbers like 501 and 504, and some blamed the CLRV's single rollsign design for this change. 
  37. ^ Bow, James (September 14, 2017). "The Toronto Flexity Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs)". Transit Toronto. Retrieved October 21, 2017. Photographer Patrick Duran captured this image of Flexity LRV #4416 operating in 501 QUEEN service eastbound at Queen and Bay on May 7, 2016. The streetcar is likely coming off duty from Spadina Avenue, but the destination sign suggests it's still picking up passengers.  photo
  38. ^ Bow, James (November 10, 2006). "Route 509 – The New Harbourfront Streetcar". Transit Toronto. Retrieved July 21, 2007. 
  39. ^ Route 512 – The St Clair Streetcar
  40. ^ http://www3.ttc.ca/Service_Advisories/Construction/St_Clair_Avenue_West_Transit_Improvements_Project_-_Phase_4.jsp
  41. ^ Kalinowski, Tess (June 30, 2010). "Finally, St. Clair streetcar fully restored". The Star. Toronto. 
  42. ^ https://transit.toronto.on.ca/archives/weblog/2007/09/03-fleet_stre.shtml
  43. ^ https://transit.toronto.on.ca/archives/weblog/2008/03/29-streetcars.shtml
  44. ^ Rider, David (December 12, 2017). "King St. pilot project moving streetcar riders quicker, city says". Toronto Star. Retrieved December 13, 2017. 
  45. ^ "Transit City". City of Toronto. Retrieved July 21, 2007. 
  46. ^ a b "Waterfront Transit Update" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. November 13, 2017. Retrieved November 13, 2017. 
  47. ^ "Port Lands + South of Eastern – Transportation + Servicing" (PDF). Waterfront Toronto. November 11, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2015. 
  48. ^ John F. Bromley (October 25, 2001). "Toronto Street Railway Routes". Transit Canada. Retrieved January 9, 2011. 
  49. ^ Pursley, Louis H. (1958). Street Railways of Toronto: 1861–1921. Los Angeles: Interurbans Press. pp. 39–45. 
  50. ^ Bow, James (April 3, 2012). "The Ashbridge Streetcar (Deceased)". Transit Toronto. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  51. ^ "The Toronto Civic Railways", UCRS Bulletin, Toronto: Upper Canada Railway Society (26), pp. 1–2 
  52. ^ "A History of Toronto's Presidents' Conference Committee Cars (the PCCs) – Transit Toronto – Content". transit.toronto.on.ca. Retrieved April 18, 2016. 
  53. ^ "Some TTC streetcars out of service due to cold weather". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. January 8, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2017. 
  54. ^ Kalinowski, Tess (January 7, 2015). "TTC warns of chilly waits as cold freezes streetcar service". Toronto Star. Retrieved October 19, 2017. 
  55. ^ "Nearly one-third of old streetcars were unable to leave yard due to frigid weather: TTC". Retrieved January 7, 2018. 
  56. ^ Fox, Chris (January 5, 2018). "Frigid temperatures impacting transit service". CP24. Retrieved January 7, 2018. 
  57. ^ a b Kalinowski, Tess (January 6, 2010). "Transit City measures up to international standard". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on August 6, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 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. 
  58. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions about Toronto's Streetcars". Transit Toronto. 3 January 2003. Retrieved October 21, 2017. 
  59. ^ Kennedy, Raymond L. (2009). "The Junction and Its Railways". TrainWeb. Retrieved April 16, 2016. 
  60. ^ Salmon, James V. (1958). Rails from the Junction. Lyon Productions. p. 7. Retrieved April 16, 2016. 
  61. ^ City solicitor (1892). "The charter of the Toronto Railway Company". City of Toronto. p. 21. Retrieved April 16, 2016. 
  62. ^ "Ashbridges Bay Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) Maintenance and Storage Facility". ttc.ca. Toronto Transit Commission. May 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2011. 
  63. ^ a b c Bateman, Chris (September 29, 2014). "The TTC's new life-sized streetcar simulator is not a toy—but it looks like one". Toronto Life. Archived from the original on September 30, 2014. 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. 
  64. ^ "Meet Pat Maietta, the TTC's last remaining blacksmith". CBC News. January 27, 2014. Retrieved October 15, 2017. 

Other references

External links

Route map: Google

KML is not from Wikidata