There’s A New Subway On The Way (6)

From time to time, the question of just what constitutes “subway demand” comes up in various threads on this site. As a matter of comparison, here is the TTC Scheduled Service Summary for April 7, 1964.

Headways on the Bloor-Danforth service itself were quite impressive. Two-car trains of PCCs, roughly the equivalent of the new Flexity cars, ran throughout the day until mid-evening, and the peak headways shown below are for trains.

                          AM Peak         PM Peak
                          Hdwy   Veh      Hdwy   Veh
Bloor route                      100             110
  Jane to Luttrell        2'30"           2'30"
  Jane to Bedford                         4'00"
Danforth route                    30              48
  Bedford to Hillingdon   3'20"
  Bedford to Luttrell                     3'00"
Combined                         130             158
  Bedford to Hillingdon   1'26"
  Jane to Bedford                         1'32"
  Bedford to Luttrell                     1'22"

Jane Loop was at Bloor & Jane.
Luttrell Loop was on Danforth between Main and Victoria Park at the old city boundary.
Bedford Loop was at St. George Station.
Hillingdon Loop was at the east side of Danforth Carhouse east of Coxwell.

The Bloor-Danforth streetcars could not carry all of the demand into downtown, and that work was shared with many parallel routes.

  • 2’00” Bathurst car from Vaughan Loop (at St. Clair) to Church & Adelaide
  • 1’30” Carlton car
  • 1’40” Dundas car from Runnymede & Dundas to City Hall
  • 2’30” Harbord car from Lansdowne & Davenport to Pape & Danforth via Dundas & Yonge
  • 1’20” King car
  • 2’00” Kingston Road car (now “Downtowner”)
  • 5’00” Kingston Road Tripper car (Victoria Park to Roncesvalles & Queen)

The streetcar system required 640 cars in the am peak, 684 in the pm peak.

6 thoughts on “There’s A New Subway On The Way (6)

  1. Impressive especially when you see the co-ordination of the other routes to assist in the movement of people … My mom, sister and I used to connect to the Harbord car at Bloor and Ossington … did not realize just how much the headway was there!!


  2. While we wait for the relief line I think they should put the tracks back on Pape and Carlaw and re-instate the eastern portion of the old Harbord route. With traffic signal priority of course.


  3. The bus system was not as Bloor-centric in those days. The Weston trolley coach terminated at Dundas/Annette instead of going down to Bloor — there was no service on Keele between Annette and Bloor. The Keele bus terminated at St. Clarens loop, where riders would transfer to the looping Harbord cars.

    Other N-S routes operated through across Bloor, allowing riders to choose which E-W route they wanted to take. While some of those routes continue through operation today (Lansdowne, Dufferin, Ossington), Bloor has become the defacto main transfer point.


  4. One reason for building the Bloor-Danforth Subway (AKA Line 2), was because of Metropolitan Toronto. The Yonge Subway (AKA Line 1) was built because of the (old) City of Toronto. With the formation of Metropolitan Toronto, the transit influence got shifted further north, resulting in decades delay for rapid transit in the south parts of Toronto.


  5. That was a different era. Those frequencies were possible because ridership was high as post-war car ownership in Toronto was low relative to the USA — because we lagged in economic prosperity vs. the US. Wages were low. Also, women didn’t drive back then. Maybe I’m remembering it wrong, but many simply did not. They didn’t have licenses. None of the immigrant housewives on our street drove, not a single one. I would always ask, “why didn’t you get your license?”. Were they scared I don’t know. If you take 3/4 of the cars off the road, sure, you can operate a very frequent and economical service, which, at that time, was even profitable.

    It’s useless to compare then and now Steve. Two totally different Torontos. Driver wages were lower — the TTC could operate more service. When I think back, it’s like some other world. Totally different. A different time — a different place.

    Steve: I didn’t say we could or should try to operate service at those levels, certainly not the intense service on Bloor-Danforth. However, we are well below that level on all of the existing routes, even King.

    The other reason for listing all of the services was to show the level of demand that predated the subway line, unlike the situation in some areas touted for new lines. Some of the more virulent (and almost always blocked) commenters here simply don’t get the concept that demand was already at a very high level in the BD corridor before construction started, not as some vague theory dependent on a sense of entitlement.


  6. Well, I think it was possible to operate that kind of frequent streetcar service because there were far fewer automobiles on the road, and public transit was the primary mode, given the immigrant population in the old City of Toronto at that time and their affluence. It shifted in the 70s. There were only 1 or 0-automobile households back in the 60s, south of St. Clair. It’s amazing to see that the TTC was slightly profitable until BD opened, while operating those streetcar service frequencies. They wouldn’t be able to pull that off now. Someone would really need to look at the ridership per capita then and now and break down their operating costs (then and now) to see what was different. Benefits and wages, for starters. One factor that I can think of that permitted that kind of frequent service was low capital costs — their ability to buy up streetcars on the cheap from US cities who had ditched them, and the change that occurred when they sold off or dumped the surplus BD PCCs in the 60s after BD. The operating costs of BD put them in the red for the first time I believe after the line opened, so things were starting to shift then when the fares doubled. When you go from 10c to 20c, that’s doubling the fare. That would be like going from $3.25 to $6.50 now.

    The way I remember it, Bloor-Danforth was a political move that was made before ridership on Bloor reached critical mass, very much in the same way that expressway construction was planned even though road congestion then was nowhere near what it’s like now. I don’t remember the idea of an E-W subway being driven by ridership. It was simply a case of we have a N-S subway and it was a huge success, so now we need an East-West subway for a basic rapid transit network, so where are we going to put it? I know a lot of people in the old City that don’t use the TTC, or BD, and they live right along the line … NOW. That wasn’t the case then. Those guys are clogging up the roads. Things down there just don’t make a lot of sense really. Ridership seems to be much higher now, but when a streetcar costs you how many million dollars just to buy, it’s a totally different ballgame.


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