Hong Kong boasts double-decker trams. Double-decker buses signify London: the “L” rapid transit system trundles around Chicago. And bicycles are everywhere in Rotterdam.Toronto maintains and venerates its massive streetcar network. They’re longtime symbols, beginning as far back as the 1860’s several miles from the St. Lawrence Market to Yorkville Town Hall. Rosie Shephard, a Monarch Park Collegiate student wrote about the streetcar saying “They have been a defining feature of many Toronto neighbourhoods, and developed them into ‘streetcar suburbs’. (They’re) also very profitable, triggering the growth and development of local businesses and restaurants.” The Cabbagetown neighbourhood is a well-rounded example that grew from a suburb to a successful neighbourhood thanks to the streetcar. Other neighbourhoods – Riverdale and The Beaches. <ABOVE – A Toronto Transit Commission streetcar, celebrating TTC’s 80th birthday; photo by Ted Wickson . . . . and #327 is part of the Halton Collection>
TORONTO’s articulated light rail (ALRV) streetcars have laboured long and hard since the late 1980’s. They weren’t expected to live so long, but they have, thanks to a huge investment by the TORONTO Transit Commission. Once there were 52 of them, and now only a couple remain in service. And those two take their last rides on Monday, September 2nd. One will head west from the Russell Carhouse near Queen E. & Greenwood Ave.; the other will depart from Bathurst and Wolesley Streets. The very last departure will be from the Wolesley Loop to the Russell Carhouse. Rides are free from 2:00 to 5:00 pm.
The TTC’s Hillcrest maintenance shop, 1138 Bathurst Street, is where the streetcars and buses go for an overhaul and repairs. Opened in 1923, the property was once home to the Hillcrest Race Track. It’s now a major TORONTO Transit Commission maintenance centre. <PHOTO – Vic on Flickr> Highly skilled employees here have the expertise and equipment to build streetcars from scratch, a project the Commission undertook a few years ago.<PHOTO ABOVE – a yellow rail grinder car in front of the Harvey Shops at Hillcrest, ca1967-68><PHOTO ABOVE – one of the city’s new streetcars arriving at Harvey Shops. It will go into a series of road tests before entering public service.> For anything and everything about TORONTO’s transportation system – subways, buses and streetcars – take a look at Steve Munro’s excellent website: http://www.stevemunro.ca