Our Not So New Streetcars

When I was digging in my files for the Queen Subway post just below this one, I ran across a report from December 1972 entitled Streetcar Replacement Policy that discussed the implications of the decision on November 7, 1972, to retain the streetcar system.

Late in 1971, the Commission forces establish a set of parameters for new streetcars if the replacement of all or part of the present fleet was to be considered.  These were discussed with Hawkey Siddeley Canada Limited [now part of Bombardier] who advised that they would be interested in the manufacture, and at a price of approximately $173,000 per car.

The report goes on to say that with some simplification of the control system, this price could be reduced by about $22K, and compares these estimates with those for more complex articulated cars proposed for Boston and San Francisco at a cost of about $400K.  Those would turn out to be the ill-fated Boeing cars.  Philadelphia is mentioned as a possible partner with the TTC for new streetcars, and a joint venture with that system is proposed. Continue reading

From The Archives: The Queen Street Streetcar Subway

Today’s Star contains an article beginning a series about the hidden corners of the TTC with a look at the ghost station at Queen and Yonge.  This was built back in the 50s with the Yonge Subway, and passengers crossing between the northbound and southbound platforms walk through an underpass on the platform level of that station. 

Back in 1968, a few years after the original Keele-Woodbine section of the Bloor-Danforth subway had opened, the TTC was thinking about the Queen Street subway.  One proposal floated through the Commission for streetcar subway through downtown operation.  The full report is interesting reading because clearly, in 1968, the TTC was still thinking of new ways to use its streetcars.

The proposal was for a subway from west of Sherbourne to east of Spadina.   Schemes for streetcar subways had been around for a while, and I described an earlier one in a post last year.

The report throws cold water on this scheme saying that it would not materially improve the capacity of the streetcar line, and it is clear their sympathies lie with a full subway scheme.  Things did not change much for decades thereafter.   It is worth noting that in the late 1960s, there were more than 60 cars/hour on Queen Street east of Yonge.  Today, the service is equivalent to 23 cars/hour allowing for the larger size of the ALRVs. Continue reading