Looking Back: Bloor-Danforth Shuttles

From February 1966 when the original Bloor-Danforth subway opened between Keele and Woodbine, and May 1968 when the extensions to Islington and Warden were added, two streetcar shuttles served the remaining outer part of the Bloor carline.

Looking at the old streetscapes, much remains familiar, but much has been lost especially to cheap rebuilds and infill developments.  Very much a vanished breed from this era are the car lots, gas stations, furniture stores and, in a few cases, houses.

Bloor West Shuttle

Keele Station was built with two loops — the bus loop still in use today just east of Keele Street, and a temporary streetcar loop one block further east. This loop was accessed from the east end of the station platforms via stairs that now serve the parking lot.

The route operated from Roncesvalles Carhouse with cars entering service via Roncesvalles, Dundas and Bloor. The equipment was a mixed set of cars thanks to the eclectic fleet at Roncesvalles. On the last day of service, May 10, 1968, one of the oldest still-active cars, 4575 (a 1939 ex-Cincinnati demonstrator PCC) appeared on the route.

The Danforth Shuttle

The Danforth shuttle service operated from Woodbine Station to Luttrell Loop. Like the Bloor car’s arrangement at Keele Station, the streetcars had a separate loop just east of the present bus loop off of Cedarvale Avenue. The service was based at Russell Carhouse, and accessed the route via Coxwell, Upper Gerrard and Main.

For a time, the Danforth car had company at Luttrell Loop because construction at Main Station required Carlton cars to use Luttrell instead.

In a comment on another thread, John F. Bromley pointed out that the track at Woodbine Station is still quite visible. Here is the Google Street View.


Ferrying Cars Between Danforth and Russell Carhouses

After the Bloor-Danforth subway opened in 1966, the TTC had more streetcars than would fit in the active carhouses. Danforth Carhouse (at Coxwell) was used as a storage yard, and cars were rotated periodically to and from Russell Carhouse so that they would all be used from time to time. Just before the extension to Warden opened in 1968, Danforth was emptied of all cars in anticipation of the shutdown of its track connection. (The link via Coxwell had, by then, been closed although it was used as a short turn by the Carlton cars as an alternative to Coxwell-Queen Loop.)

Update: According to John Bromley, the ferrying operation was mainly to take dead cars to Hillcrest or St. Clair for sale or scrap.

9 thoughts on “Looking Back: Bloor-Danforth Shuttles

  1. Initially the TTC assigned specific car groups to the shuttles. The BLOOR shuttle was supposed to use Class A-7 PCCs (4400-4499) while the DANFORTH shuttle was allotted to the Class A-11 PCCs (4625-4674). This arrangement actually lasted for a few weeks before “intruders” began showing up. BLOOR started seeing a few 4300s, then the odd 4700 series, and occasionally an ex Cincinnati Class A-9 (4550-4574, or at least those few at the upper end of the series not allocated to St Clair CH). DANFORTH began to see the odd 4300 and also a rare Class A-9.

    Eventually the TTC decided to operate QUEEN as a multiple unit route and this began about the beginning of September 1967 (of course in the early days of MU operation on QUEEN non-MU cars were often added on weekdays in place of an MU car, fouling up the bast laid plans of management, and frequently on weekends, but that’s another story). After that the two shuttles were pretty much operated by whatever was available from the all-electric classes, with a few air-electric cars in peaks on DANFORTH. The air cars later spread to BLOOR as well, but in lesser numbers as all air cars were officially allocated at Russell. Change-offs on various routes always managed to send a few air cars to Roncesvalles to permit this.


  2. You should also mention the other remnants of the two streetcar loops: a special corridor at Woodbine station and a moving ramp at Keele station to ferry passengers from the subway to the streetcars. Both are now blocked off from the public, with the Woodbine corridor being used as storage and offices. I have a post up on these on Transit Toronto.

    Great photos!

    Steve: Thanks for the link to your article.


  3. Before the Keele Station opened, the 89 Weston trolley bus south terminal was at Annette Street. Keele Street was a narrow street from Annette Street to Bloor Street, one lane in each direction.

    With the Keele Station opening in February, 1966, they widened Keele Street to two lanes in each direction, and the trolley lines extended south to the station. You can see the cut into the hillside at Keele Street & Glenlake Avenue, requiring a concrete cliff of a wall (the original wall is still holding up the houses on top).


  4. Its interesting to note that the passage may or may not be uncovered during the Woodbine renovations currently ongoing. From what I understand that space may be getting gutted as part of the modernization.

    Its interesting to see how things once were but alas can never be again. Its funny actually because if you look at Google Maps http://goo.gl/maps/yZxJK you can actually see where the streetcars connected at Keele by the part of the station that juts out into the parking lot.

    Maybe you can shed light on a couple things Steve. Any idea why the connection to the streetcar platform was via the platform on one side and not via a walkway like Woodbine?

    Steve: No idea at all. Maybe others from the era can add to this. I vaguely remember that the south platform (the one with the ramp) was the preferred one for trains to be dispatched from.


  5. Thanks for contextualizing these photos. I’ve lived near the Woodbine station for about four years and have often wondered at the history of the streetcar tracks at Cedarvale, which I walk across regularly.


  6. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the photos with this post. I have walked around the outside of KEELE at the Indian Grove exit to try to get the lay of the land and figure out where the loop once was. That second photo is everything I have wanted and more.


  7. I used the Danforth shuttle for its entire life while attending University. I really liked it when the Carlton car used Luttrel loop during the construction of Main Station because I would sometimes use it to travel to or from the south end of U of T and it saved a transfer at Danforth and Main.


  8. Until the Bloor-Danforth Subway was extended west to Islington in 1968, the Dundas streetcar also continued to operate to the Runnymede Loop. With the opening, the 40 Junction trolley bus took over.

    In 1991, the 40 Junction was taken over by the diesel buses. I liked it better with the streetcars, second choice trolley buses. Still don’t know why they don’t extend the 40 Junction bus to Jane or at lease replace the 71A arm of the Runnymede bus with an extension.

    Steve: There are some photos of Dundas out to Runnymede in a previous article I posted on CNE services.

    The routes in that part of the world are rather odd, and some of the layout is a remnant of old municipal boundaries between York and Toronto. I don’t know the demand patterns there well enough to say “this would be better than that”, and I suspect with the new developments going in, these patterns are changing anyhow.


  9. Yes — bias was always to Platform 1 (the one with the ramp). The ramp was more of a gimmick and test than anything else, because during rush hours, both platforms had to be used. There was one flashing NEXT TRAIN two-arrow sign and two NEXT TRAIN Solari destination boxes at that entrance, so passengers were going to have to use the platform without the ramp during the peak to catch either the next available train, or a DOWNTOWN or WOODBINE train. How much could an extra ramp have cost? The shuttles ran because they didn’t want to overbuild the Keele bus bay. It was a real inconvenience to passengers back then, and very confusing.


Comments are closed.