Curb Lane Streetcars on College Street (1972)

Back in June 1972, the TTC had a small problem with the appearance of a sinkhole under the westbound track on College at St. George thanks to a water main break.

Looking E at St. George 1972.06.25

Fixing this was not going to be speedy. Streetcars continued to use the eastbound rails briefly, but the excavation needed to make repairs meant a complete shutdown of service both ways. Rather than leaving the Carlton car on an extended diversion, the TTC built temporary trackage on College Street itself with streetcars running eastbound in the curb lane.


Until the temporary tracks were completed, Carlton cars operated via McCaul, Queen and Spadina. Here are views of those streets as they then were.


The original (April Fool’s Day) post:

With a nearly year-long replacement of streetcars by buses on College Street, riders might ask whether the TTC is up to something in its service plans.

The explanation might be evident in a trial installation discovered by your intrepid reporter. More news to follow as it becomes available.

16 thoughts on “Curb Lane Streetcars on College Street (1972)

  1. Sadly, Detroit didn’t think this was a bad thing and has ended up with poor light rail service…


  2. Is that head on night view at College or Dundas? It appears that the track on Spadina continues north following the two switches but of course the track didn’t continue north past College then.

    Steve: Yes, it is at College. The old track used by the Harbord car had not yet been removed. Also, there was no north to west curve at Dundas until the TTC rebuilt the intersection for the Spadina line, nor was there a safety island at that location (the one in the shot is a also a relic of the Harbord car). Finally, you can see part of the sign for the Victory Theatre in the background, and it is down at Dundas.


  3. Funny and all, but it does beg the question, what would the impact be of a curbed in right lane streetcar reservation? That is, hard curb at the left edge of the right lane, and streetcar tracks beside the sidewalk (ie curb lane light lrt?)

    Steve: Aside from the fact that cyclists would hate it, the biggest problem is at junctions where our curves, already tighter than “standard” LRT would be impossible.


  4. Just here to note that the building in the first photo at the corner of Beverly and College has been gutted and will soon be history.


  5. Steve said: “Aside from the fact that cyclists would hate it, the biggest problem is at junctions where our curves, already tighter than “standard” LRT would be impossible.”

    So essentially turns would need to be made underground, or some equivalent.

    Steve: They could not be made underground because approach ramps would be needed at all intersections, and the curves underground would cut through buildings on the corners. There is also the issue of utility relocations. On many streets, utilities are deliberately under curb lanes to avoid conflict with streetcar tracks. The whole idea is a complete non-starter.


  6. Wow! What memories these shots bring back. I remember Bob McMann running into the Upper Canada Railway Society meeting on the Friday evening to tell us that College Street had collapsed and the tracks had gone with it. I also remember the Victory Theatre from around that time because the manager, who was a Jolson fan like me, sneaked me in to see a third-rate American hambone who did an act between the strippers that was billed as Jolson Sings Again – in blackface, yet. I was 15. The deal was that I got to see the Jolson imitator, but not the girls. I had to wait several years for the latter to happen thanks to cuddly ol’ Elwy Yost at a famous dive in Hollywood called The Pussycat Club. There was former Pacific Electric trackage in front of it, which was still being used by the Southern Pacific to, among other things, haul covered hoppers of flour to the Wonder Bread bakery out in Beverly Hills. It’s probably best if I don’t go any further. There could be kiddies or Elwy fans reading this.


  7. Interesting: They did the same thing along Bloor St. at University just north of the museum when they were building the north to west subway tunnels under Bloor St. Unfortunately no pictures.


  8. It is unfortunate that this pilot project was cancelled. Every year hundreds of people are injured by vehicles failing to stop to open streetcar doors. For safety reasons, streetcars should be moved to the curb lanes or elevated or underground or have their own lanes or at least island stops.

    Steve: This was not a “pilot” project, but a temporary arrangement to work around an excavation.


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