Forty Years On, Still Waiting For a Suburban LRT Network

Forty years ago today, the TTC decided to retain its streetcar system.

My comments are on the Torontist website.

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25 Responses to Forty Years On, Still Waiting For a Suburban LRT Network

  1. DavidC says:

    Link is ‘circular” – should be to http://torontoist.com/

    Steve: Thanks for catching this. Helpful WordPress editor mangled the link.

  2. Mikey says:

    Do you know why the TTC didn’t simply order extra CLRV’s to restore service on Rogers Road at the time? I thought the bustitution was supposed to be temporary.

    Steve: At that time, the City of York was a separate municipality, and they didn’t want to keep the streetcar line.

  3. Steve, thanks for the comments on the 40th anniversary of the decision to retain streetcars in Toronto.

    It seems to me that the group wanted to have both the streetcars and a suburban rail expansion, rather than a suburban rail expansion that meant the loss of the downtown streetcar network. Instead we kept the streetcars but lost the suburban rail expansion.

    So who was it that decided that Toronto could not have both streetcars and suburban rail? And how did they justify this argument?

    Was it that people couldn’t get their heads around the flexibility of the streetcar technology, or was it the obsession with new technology (the idea of Maglev in Ontario seems to have come in the late 1970s, not the early 1970s) or resistance from people who weren’t happy with the decision to retain the streetcars? Or something else entirely?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: The chronology of the Scarborough LRT is roughly this:

    • Proposed as part of the 1969 TTC Plan.
    • Replaced by Maglev “ICTS” scheme in 1971.
    • Maglev technology development discontinued. Ontario left without a viable product.
    • Ontario adopts CLRV program as a product it can deliver, but overdesigns the car for high-speed (70 mph) operation.
    • Scarborough EA proceeds on the basis of LRT using CLRVs; Malvern extension proposed as LRT.
    • ICTS as we know it developed by Ontario. Scarborough Council convinced by TTC/UTDC that LRT through Scarborough Town Centre should be elevated. Technology switch to ICTS no longer has to bear the brunt of “ugly” elevated structure.
    • Scarborough line technology changed to ICTS.

    The problem was entirely of Queen’s Park’s making. The government would rather tinker with unproven technologies claiming that they would bring industrial development to Ontario than implement technology used elsewhere in the world. Transit has been used more for job creation (construction and technology development) than for shaping urban growth.

    There is a wonderful irony about the more recent Scarborough EA which was completed on the basis of an upgraded ICTS rather than LRT. The TTC clung to this idea with fudged costing and construction effect claims right up to the end when it finally became unsupportable to keep an orphan ICTS route in the middle of an LRT network. Therefore we have an original LRT EA that was perverted into ICTS, and an ICTS EA that was changed back to LRT. Dare I mention that there were rumours that Queen’s Park was embarrassed that the TTC would dump its technology until Metrolinx finally embraced LRT?

  4. Gord Adams says:

    Morning Steve, love those pics Torontoist posted. You think it may be time for another pic to post for your viewers to examine and tease again?

    Steve: I have been preoccupied with other things (including the good weather until recently), and my slide scanning took a back seat in my spare time activity. Also, I have been scanning some non-transit material. Be patient. Santa is coming.

  5. Mikey asked,

    “Do you know why the TTC didn’t simply order extra CLRV’s to restore service on Rogers Road at the time?”

    Correct me if I have this mixed up with something else, but wasn’t the cancellation of Rogers Road well before a new design was out (let alone, the idea of a CLRV) and that route (as well as Harbord) were cut in order to redeploy vehicles for the rest of the system until a a new design was available for orders?

    Steve: Harbord was dropped as part of the Bloor-Danforth subway opening when pieces of it were replaced by other routes. Rogers Road was explicitly mentioned in the 1972 motion by the TTC keeping the rest of the streetcar system, and as I said this was because York, then a separate municipality, didn’t want to keep them, unlike Toronto. James Bow’s article on Transit Toronto is incorrect on that point too.

  6. David Aldinger says:

    Too bad there wasn’t an individual or group of individuals in York who wanted to keep streetcars who could’ve lobbied just as effectively as had been done in the old city. One story I heard about the abandonment of the Rogers Road line was something about electrical issues but at the moment I can’t recall exactly what was said.

    On the subject of the EA for the Scarborough line, is it still going to be converted to LRT? Up until I saw what you just said, I’m no longer sure.

    Steve: Yes, it is still going to become an LRT line, and Metrolinx is hoping for a considerably shorter shutdown period than the five year number kicking around right now. They won’t commit until they are more certain about the construction proposals they get from bidders. I was speaking with Metrolinx two days ago, and that’s their current position.

  7. W. K. Lis says:

    A lot of those streetcar abandonments may have happened because of the lack of communication that it was going to happen, at the time. No internet, no blogs, no e-mails. Newspaper article maybe buried deep inside. Maybe two local TV stations, and if mentioned maybe a ten second passing message (no rewind).

    I remember when the Bloor-Danforth subway opened on a weekend in February, 1966, but on the first Monday there were still people waiting for a non-existent Bloor streetcar to come by at a streetcar stop. Not everyone learned what happened until after the fact.

    Steve: Despite major newspaper coverage and pole cards on every stop.

  8. David Aldinger says:

    A couple of questions have crossed my mind lately. First of all, what was it that caused the West German government to withdraw funding from the maglev project’s developer (Krass-Maffei)?

    Steve: They considered the project to be impractical, which it was for local transport. Even for long-hauls, it only makes sense for a very dense corridor where the expense of a completely separate guideway can be justified. In a country that already had a busy network of railways, and on a continent where high speed rail using more conventional technology was also being developed, Maglev didn’t and doesn’t make sense.

    Second of all, was Quenn’s Park and UTDC is some big hurry to show off ICTS that they forced an already-in-development LRT line to ICTS?

    Steve: Yes. The SRT was a “demonstration” of the technology, and they could not seal the deal with Vancouver where it would be showcased at Expo without adopting the technology somewhere in Ontario themself. There was a small bill that wound up on the order paper allowing the government to underwrite UTDC and any guarantees it made. This was necessary for the Vancouver deal to go through so that the UTDC and Ontario would be on the hook for any screwups. The Liberals, who were on the warpath against the UTDC at the time, threatened to derail the bill (it was a minority house), but the Tories declared it a matter of confidence (!!!) and that there would be an election if the bill was not passed. I was advising the Liberal transportation critic, Eric Cunningham, at the time and this is first hand info.

    From what I can gather, new technology, to be successful and dependable, takes more development and testing time to get all the bugs out. If UTDC and Queen’s Park had to show off ICTS so badly, it’s always seemed top me that the least they could’ve done was to use the plans for the line out of Islington, possibly Kipling, for their showcase, not a line already about to be built.

    Steve: The western line had no preliminary engineering, route selection, etc., and would have required a longer lead time, especially to negotiate the access to Malton Airport.

  9. Deborah Brown says:

    Maybe if Streetcars for Toronto hadn’t been successful in 1972 and the streetcar system had been abandoned as planned, we wouldn’t be having this vigorous debate about the merits of LRT in this city. There is no question that in the court of public opinion, LRT has a very bad name at the moment and if there was no similar technology to compare it with, it would be much more difficult to identify LRT with streetcars and the projects would be more politically palatable, just like they are in many cities both here in North America and in Europe. The public perception of streetcar service is low, due to antiquated operating practices and little to no transit priority and unfortunately, it will take five or six years for some of that to change, assuming they don’t find a way to screw up the service just as badly once the new cars are in service.

  10. M. Briganti says:

    Deborah Brown said …

    The public perception of streetcar service is low, due to antiquated operating practices …

    Nope — they just don’t want them blocking cars, left turns, etc. Go to Mississauga and look at the growing opposition to the Hurontario LRT.

    The TTC didn’t hang on to its PCC fleet as long as they did because of a firm belief in LRT, or a love affair with streetcars. They ran them into the ground because it was cheaper than prematurely replacing the fleet with buses, and they gobbled up barely used PCCs for almost nothing from American cities who were abandoning their systems at the time.

    To be honest, I always thought the PCCs were ugly, antiquated, and I couldn’t think of a more unattractive paint scheme than maroon/cream, but, I admit I have pleasant memories riding them … but the pleasant memories are not from the cars themselves. I was a kid at the time, and it simply brings back that feeling of happiness that we all had as children.

    That’s the reason we still have streetcars. Streetcars For Toronto made some very strong economic arguments, but the movement was really based on railfanism and nostalgia. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I wish they would just admit it. Now the nostalgia is gone, because the new vehicles have all the charm of buses with steel wheels, so the focus has shifted to the practical problems of running them in today’s traffic.

    PS … I have old videos from the 60s and early 70s of MU PCCs running downtown which I would love to put online. You can see clearly see armies of them running on Queen with very little auto traffic in between. There was so much service and the cars were so lightly loaded … surreal compared to the situation today.

    Steve: I suppose that we should not let animal lovers run zoos, or lovers of the stage and music run theatres, just to ensure that “fanism” won’t creep into any decisions.

    Streetcars for Toronto was based on many things, and yes some of us were “fans”, but the hope was to see the expansion of rail transit into the suburbs as even the TTC had foreseen in 1969. Instead what we got was a half-hearted commitment to keeping the streetcar system running, and a provincially mandated transit technology that was laughably oversold and overpriced.

    A similar problem beset the trolley-bus system. Rather than building new lines in areas where demand and terrain suited them, the TTC allowed a network that largely served half-empty former industrial areas to dwindle and die. Management didn’t want them, and the mutual connivance of the Ministry of Transportation, the natural gas lobby, and Ontario manufacturers looking for government work without competition, led us to the natural gas buses. The TTC touted them as a “green” alternative to the trolley-buses, but now they’re gone too.

    Toronto has been lied to about transit technologies for decades, often by quick-buck artists who would rather get an industrial development grant than produce something useful for the transit system.

  11. M Briganti said:

    “growing opposition to the Hurontario LRT.”

    I would be interested in hearing more about this. I think that right now drivers on Hurontario are frustrated because of increased delays passing through the Burnamthorpe-403-Eglinton portion of the corridor. This is caused by construction of the Mississauga BRT ramps. Then there is the construction at Highway 401 (the extension of the collector-express system to Hurontario St) that required a new bridge over the 401, with lots of delays occurring as a result.

    The first phase of the LRT is to run from the City Centre terminal to Shopper’s World, and a great deal of that corridor is low-density commercially-zoned land, except for the part between Eglinton and the 403 (now labeled as Mississauga’s “up-town”). It will be a long, long time before the LRT gets down to Lake Ontario or up to downtown Brampton and the GO station.

    I’d think there would be more issues with the LRT because of the proposed new bridge on City Centre Drive (crossing the 403) which will cost a lot of money.

    Or perhaps that old chestnut of extending the subway to Square One is gaining currency again. After all if they can plan to extend the subway to 16th Ave … why not think about extending the Bloor-Danforth line to, say, Dixie Road (Bloor from Kipling to Dixie has some pretty good density too). And then, it is just a hop, skip and a jump to Hurontario St. (with additional stations at Tomken, Cawthra, Mississauga Valley and the City Centre Terminal).

    Oh, sure there is a GO train that runs to Union via Cooksville, Dixie and Kipling, but then, a GO train runs from Richmond Hill to Union too :o)

    Cheers, Moaz

  12. Deborah Brown says:

    Of couse they don’t want them to ‘block traffic’ (although as Robert Risson aptly pointed out in the early ’50s during the debate regarding the future of Melbourne’s tram system: ‘The basic traffic problem is the movement of people, or goods, and not, as commonly and erroneously supposed, moving vehicles’). This is North America after all and the GTA was built around cars. Even downtown, where transit usage is highest, there is little to no signal priority for transit. It is always going to be this way and a few LRT’s here and there won’t magically transform low-density suburbs into some kind of European-like pedestrian and transit paradise. Having said that, what I was trying to point out in the previous comment is that the TTC has given streetcar service a huge black eye by operating them as essentially buses on rails, using practices long abandoned in the rest of the world on a rather decrepit infrastructure which has only been slowly brought up to modern standards in the last 15 years or so.

  13. M. Briganti says:

    Moaz … here’s the link.

    Port Credit doesn’t want it.

  14. Robrt Wightman says:

    Deborah Brown says:

    November 13, 2012 at 11:38 am

    “… Having said that, what I was trying to point out in the previous comment is that the TTC has given streetcar service a huge black eye by operating them as essentially buses on rails, using practices long abandoned in the rest of the world on a rather decrepit infrastructure which has only been slowly brought up to modern standards in the last 15 years or so.”

    Moaz, it is unfortunately true that many of the burgers of Port Credit do not want LRT because it will interfere with their ability to drive their cars and make left turns any where they want. They have their GO trains to Toronto and they are close to the QEW. Too bad if some one who lives out side wants decent transit to the GO train. This is not a problem with only those in Port Credit. It is a problem with most people whose attitude is I am all right so tough s*** to you.

    Steve interjects: Burghers are townsfolk. Burgers come with fries on the side. Burghers may eat burgers, but the latter tend to have no opinion on the subject of LRT lines.

    While I agree with almost all of what you say, there are a number of cities in the US that are building Street Car lines, not LRT, but mixed traffic street car lines. The TTC has many faults but retaining street cars is not one of them. True, they should have built or rebuilt their trackage to higher standards earlier but it is happening now.

    Given the poor capital funding that the TTC has, they have done a remarkable job carrying the levels of ridership that they do with their infrastructure. The TTC has street car and bus lines that carry more people than a lot of US heavy rapid transit line.

    Keep fighting for better service, especially on Kingston Rd. but be thankful that we have the TTC and not most of the US transit systems.

  15. Chris says:

    The Hurontario LRT is going to be very controversial in Mississauga and Brampton. Those who have heard about it are not happy. Not many people have heard about it.

    Here in Mississauga and Brampton, we are fed up with the traffic congestion. But driving is still much faster and convenient than taking the bus here. So so as long as you can afford automobile ownership, that will be your choice here. An LRT along Hurontario and two BRT lines (Transitway and Dundas) is not going to force Mississaugans out of their cars and onto public transit. The nearest Hurontario intersection is a 2.2 km walk from my place (Hurontario/Eglinton). The nearest Transitway BRT stop is 2.9 km away (City Centre bus terminal). You’d have to take a feeder bus. If the feeder service sucks, people are going to stay in their cars.

    When evaluating a rush hour trip to my soon to be relocated work location, it’s evident why people in Mississauga drive. 7 min walk to my bus stop (Eglinton/Mavis), 6 min bus ride on Eglinton towards Hurontario, 2 minute walk to the Hurontario bus stop (Hurontario/Eglinton), 8 minute wait for the Hurontario bus, 14 min Hurontario Express bus ride to Derry, 5 minute walk to the building. 42 minute commute. In clear traffic, a car can do that 8 km commute in 14 minutes. During rush hour, it should be longer than 14 mins. Particularly in the afternoon rush hour for me. And you have to park your vehicle and walk over. But still a ton better than 42 mins.

    People in Mississauga will not leave their cars at home until they see serious improvement with public transit. I think it’s amusing that the transit trip I just described only features 20 minutes of bus driving (through 8.2 kms of corridor) but 22 minutes of walking and waiting for the bus. The bus travel itself is not so bad (at least in that example because the second bus, the Hurontario bus, is an express). But then you have to walk to the bus stop (7 mins), deal with the 10 minute headway, walk to your destination (5 mins).

    To be fair, the TTC itself requires lots of walking too (or bus/streetcar riding if you don’t want to walk it to subway stations). But 8.2 km in Old Toronto takes you further than in Mississauga. So you don’t notice it as much. The house I grew up in near Ossington/College is 5km away from Union Station. Old Toronto is a lot more compact than Mississauga. Old Toronto is almost three times smaller than Mississauga and has about three times the population density. And travelling by automobile in Old Toronto (especially downtown) is less convenient and fast than here in the 905. Meanwhile here in Mississauga, the streets are wider, the speed limits are generally faster, more left turn lanes, and curb-side parking on non-residential streets is largely banned except for parts of City Centre (“downtown Mississauga”) and Streetsville (olde towne style part of Mississauga).

    Mississauga at the core is designed for the automobile. Trying to change Hurontario into Yonge Street Jr. is not going to change that.

  16. Ed says:

    Gee, a ‘hundred people’ who don’t want LRT on Hurontario. I’ll bet you can get a hundred people to oppose just about any change to a street. Big deal.

    Concluding that “Port Credit doesn’t want it” is a huge leap of imagination. I think there are more than a hundred people in Port Credit. Some of them may not be old NIMBYs.

  17. Michael Hobble says:

    It’d be nice if some form of underground transit existed along the Hurontario corridor between the QEW and Eglinton. This is the busiest and densely populated section and would quickly exceed the capacity of surface LRTs. Downtown Brampton (between Nanwood and Church) is also an area where the LRT should route underground as the road width is quite narrow through this section.

  18. David Aldinger says:

    How many people would agree with me that Rob Ford would fit right in in Port Credit or elsewhere in Mississauga?

    Steve: I think that the good burghers of Port Credit and Mississauga might consider any attempt to export the Fords to their lands as a hostile act.

  19. Chris says:

    The Port Credit community is very NIMBY-esque. There may only be one hundred signatures. But that’s because very few people in Mississauga actually know about the Hurontario LRT plans. Mississauga and Brampton are motorist cities. LRT is not going to have a warm reception there. The LRT situation is a difficult one to call. Because the suburbs don’t have the density to support heavy rail but some of their corridors have too much projected density to stick with buses (including Hurontario). LRT’s capacity is “just right”. However LRT will come at the cost of motorists. And motorists make up the majority of travelers down these corridors.

    I don’t think Mississauga has much choice regarding Hurontario though but to build LRT. Hurontario’s ridership is increasing because auto ownership in the GTA is expensive. Insurance rates are high and gasoline is about 35c/litre more than across the border. Lots of people in Hurontario ride the bus. Not because they want to save the planet or see it as a viable alternative to driving. But because they can’t afford to own a car. It’s not the better way, it’s the only way for a lot of people. Even if the government regulates the auto insurance industry more heavily and cuts gasoline taxes, that’s just going to increase traffic congestion down that corridor. And Hurontario already has a reputation for being congested.

    Mass rapid transit also isn’t exactly going to be a god send for people in suburbia. The reason why the subway and streetcars are so popular in downtown Toronto is because driving in downtown Toronto sucks!

    The bottom line is that concessions are going to have to be made because either you find a way to service growing demand for public transit along that corridor or you force those people onto the roads, congesting them further. A lot of people are not going to like the medicine. But something needs to be done. You can’t just ignore people who can’t afford a car. They need a way to get to work.

  20. David Aldinger says:

    From what I’ve been able to gather, there seem to be alot of Mississauga residents who think an East/West LRT would be a much better proposition. I think I can remember possible talk of some kind of LRT back in the ’70s or ’80s.

    Steve: I suspect that there have been three problems with a Dundas LRT. First is the question of municipal boundaries and how to resolve jurisdiction, especially in Toronto. Second, a Dundas LRT could undercut subway extension hopes. Finally, where should the outer end be. Hurontario is neatly bounded by Brampton and the lake, whereas Dundas Street goes on forever.

  21. Deborah Brown said:

    This is North America after all and the GTA was built around cars. Even downtown, where transit usage is highest, there is little to no signal priority for transit.

    Case in point, the return of the reversible lane on Jarvis took less than 2 weeks to happen. It’s clear that, aside from Coun. DMW and the good “burghers” of Moore Park & Rosedale and Governor’s Hill, there must have been some people in Toronto’s roads department who were good and ready to get rid of the bike lanes & bring back the reversible lane. Never mind the effect on Jarvis or the cyclists. I can picture the good DMW or the Ford Brothers doing their best Farragut impersonation (“Damn the cyclists & pedestrians, full speed ahead!)

    M. Briganti:

    It seems clear that the Hurontario-Main LRT will be at its most “disruptive” in Port Credit (running on the west side of the road from Inglewood/Eaglewood down to the Hurontario-Lakeshore-St. Lawrence intersection, and that right-hand turn at Port St.) and downtown Brampton (the proposed transit mall is interesting to say the least).

    But hey, those parts of the proposed line are a loooooooong, loooooooong way off. The first phase, if it happens, will go from Square One to Shopper’s World. That may be all for a very, very long time.

    Steve: I suspect that there have been three problems with a Dundas LRT. First is the question of municipal boundaries and how to resolve jurisdiction, especially in Toronto. Second, a Dundas LRT could undercut subway extension hopes. Finally, where should the outer end be. Hurontario is neatly bounded by Brampton and the lake, whereas Dundas Street goes on forever.

    Over the past 40 years the TTC & Mississauga Transit haven’t managed to figure out the balance between their jursidictional issues and customer service. So, TTC customers wait in the cold between buses while watching MiWay buses pass them (going into and out of Toronto). And MiWay buses continue to head in to Islington station even though it would make much more sense to stop at Kipling.

    Steve: They were supposed to move to a new regional terminal at Kipling, but this project was transferred to Metrolinx, and the whole thing is on hold now for some reason. The delay no longer has anything to do with the TTC.

    As for subway talk, well, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the main reason for a lack of investment in ‘higher-order’ transit in Mississauga. The “BRT” which will open in 2013, was proposed in the late 70s as the “Transitway” (inspired, no doubt, by Ottawa’s Transitway). I’m sure that talk of an extension from Kipling and onwards to Square One would have seemed ‘sensible’ to a city that was planning a visionary ‘city centre’.

    “Hurontario St.” ends way past Brampton :-) up at Shelburne. One has to drive into Shelburne to reach the continuation of Highway 10/Route 10 which eventually merges with Highway 6 and continues all the way to the end of the Bruce Peninsular. Route 124, just east of Shelburne, heads north to Collingwood where it becomes Hurontario St once again.

    Steve: Yes, I know that Hurontario goes further north, but Brampton at least provides a major node.

    Dundas just feels like it goes on forever :-)

    I do recall some talk about extending the St. Clair streetcar to Scarlett Road, and under the train tracks to Dundas. This was going to be part of a renewal project for the Dundas/St. Clair/Scarlett Road intersection, which is one of the most depressing intersections in the city (unless you like trains, and playing chicken with cars who cannot see you). Eventually the streetcar would have run to Kipling Station and then on to the far reaches of Mississauga.

    Steve: That proposal never made much sense to begin with, and the proposal to rejig the intersection is no longer active. However, there is still supposed to be a study on extending the St. Clair car west from Gunn’s Loop to serve the developing area. St. Clair itself does end.

    On the other hand, I’ve read of a proposal from Halton/Oakville to build a BRT on Dundas to link Oakville to Burlington (Waterdown, specifically). So perhaps the BRT/LRT configuration might be figured out one day.

    And, hey, if we could have radial railways up to Sutton and Guelph ….
    Cheers, Moaz

  22. Karl Junkin says:

    Michael Hobble said: It’d be nice if some form of underground transit existed along the Hurontario corridor between the QEW and Eglinton. This is the busiest and densely populated section and would quickly exceed the capacity of surface LRTs.

    It is extremely doubtful that the surface LRT would run out of capacity on Hurontario, because of employment patterns. Hurontario has density south of Eglinton, yes, but although some of it is commercial, most of it is residential. Moreover, the higher jobs concentration is going to be in the Burnhamthorpe-Eglinton stretch, which greatly limits the prospects of Hurontario, south of Burnhamthorpe especially, of ever reaching a critical mass of ridership requiring underground options (in large part because the lake puts a geographic limit on potential catchment area from the south). Once at Burnhamthorpe, the dynamics may eventually change, someday, but not anytime soon. Underground options are not economically viable/sustainable along Hurontario.

  23. The big challenge with Hurontario between B’thorpe and Eglinton will be the new infrastructure required for the LRT. It may not go underground, but it will require a new bridge over the 403 (which may or may not be designed as an extension of City Centre Drive), as well as new infrastructure north of B’thorpe (which will finally build out the roads around the City Centre.

    As far as I know, the plan is for the LRT to split into 2 segments through the City Centre … one on B’thorpe over to Living Arts Drive then up to Rathburn, another running from the intersection of Hurontario & B’thorpe up City Centre Drive. Both segments would meet up again at Rathburn & City Centre drive (which is an absolutely huge intersection).

    The plan to run down to Elizabeth St. (south of Lakeshore) in Port Credit is probably what is generating the most controversy.

    The reason to run down to the lake (instead of stopping at the GO station) is because there is a plan to redevelop the Canada Steamship Lines Marine Facilities (apparently it is the largest boating/marine facility in the GTA) so they want the LRT to serve any redevelopment of the area.

    Cheers, moaz

  24. Mikey says:

    I wonder what the funding conversation was like in the 1900′s, when streetcar networks seemed to expand like crazy. Did the railway companies require capital subsidies from the city, province, or federal government?

    Steve: No. The private sector was happy to build street railways because they had no competition. Also, their electric plants provided power for the city until the line from Niagara came to town. After the original build-out, however, the Toronto Railway Company did not want to invest in expansion or maintenance, and this led to the loss of their franchise to a municipal agency, the TTC.

  25. ncarlson says:

    “After the original build-out, however, the Toronto Railway Company did not want to invest in expansion or maintenance, and this led to the loss of their franchise to a municipal agency, the TTC.”

    Moreover, there was a good ten to fifteen year period at the end of the TRC’s franchise during which they refused to expand into the then newly annexed areas forcing the city to build and operate a separate civic railway. As much as things change they stay the same, and it was never really possibly to make money on transit in all but the densest core of cities, while the moment automobiles arrived in any numbers the financial situation became unbelievably precarious. It’s hardly new for government funds to be needed one way or another.

    Steve: Another point worth mentioning is that street railways were often an adjunct of other businesses such as real estate development. When these functions were not combined, or when new development grew beyond the area where the railway could make money without further investment in infrastructure, then the economics came unglued.

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