TTC Service in the 1950s

My collection of Scheduled Service Summaries has been updated with scans of three versions from 1954, 1956 and 1959.

Of interest among these is the expansion of the suburban bus network, and the very high level of service on routes in the “old” City of Toronto. The Yonge Subway existed between Eglinton and Union, but all other transit was surface routes with streetcars and buses.

Open the page linked above, and scroll down to the bottom. Note that this page is included under the “Reference Material” navigation tab if you are looking for it in the future.

7 thoughts on “TTC Service in the 1950s

  1. Missing are the Gray Coach routes, within and outside the old city of Toronto.

    Steve: You didn’t read very carefully. The Hill and Mt. Pleasant Gray Coach routes are on the last page of the April 1954 summaries. They were discontinued in September 1954 because their ridership was drawn to the subway. They are not on the 1956 and 1959 summaries because they no longer existed.

    As for outside of the city Gray Coach routes, they never appeared on the TTC’s service summary.


  2. I find the number of vehicles in service on the YONGE subway for 1954 (86 and 82) interesting especially since they don’t evenly divide by four, six, or eight for car lengths of an average train. This must reflect the number of cars available rather than actually running at a given time.

    Steve: Intriguing. With a round trip time of 40 minutes and a headway of 2.5 minutes, that takes 16 trains. If they were 6 cars long, that would be 96 cars, not 86. By 1956, the round trip time is down to 34 minutes with a 2.3 minute headway. That’s 15 8-car trains for a total of 120.


  3. However, 86 cars could be 3 8-car trains, 5 6-car trains and 8 4-car trains which incidentally is also 16 trains. PM rush 82 cars could swap an 8 car train for 4 cars which keeps same number of trains and reduces cars to 82.

    Steve: Don’t forget that in April 1954 the line had just opened, and they had not built up to 8-car trains yet. The 16 trains would have been a mix of 6-car and 4-car sets.


  4. The six and four car train sets make sense. But, the other interesting thing is that, according to most historical reports, 100 cars were available for operation, or were operable, so to speak, as of opening day. Of course, by 1956, a lot of the 5200 filler cars were now in service, easily making for 120 cars.


  5. Thanks for sharing those artifacts from your collection. Some of those routes are remarkable. It is astounding to see the number of routes that were scheduled to run every 90 seconds (or less!). That would be the equivalent roughly of a bus or streetcar departing on every green light. I have to imagine that, at that frequency, there would have been a fair amount of bunching, but even if all vehicles on the route ran in pairs (essentially a de facto MU service) you would have seen a bus or streetcar every 3 minutes.

    Presumably at that frequency you could get away with a lot more variability, because the sheer magnitude of service would hide all but the most egregious of cases. And that frequency would also give you a lot more route management options (e.g., a short turn becomes a minor inconvenience rather than a potential major delay).

    Steve: That is precisely the problem we have seen over the years on routes where headways widen thanks to the use of larger vehicles such as articulated buses and streetcars. The tactics for service management that worked on short headways don’t work as headways get wider. This is a major threat to service quality as we look at possible service cuts and less frequent service across the network.

    The TTC has been rescheduling routes so that short turns are rarely required, but they have not addressed headway reliability.


  6. Would like to see the return of the green “bull’s eye” light on streetcars.

    ‘In 1935, the TTC re-introduced “bull’s eyes” to its streetcar fleet. Officially known as an advance light, a single roof-mounted light, which gave off a blue-green hue, was designed to let waiting passengers know a streetcar was on its way. At the same time, the TTC installed dash lights, which both illuminated advertising cards and provided additional lighting, a useful safety feature.’

    ‘New PCC streetcars, which began arriving in 1938, were built with the advance lights already installed. By 1940, all streetcars, including the remaining wooden cars acquired from the Toronto Railway Company, were equipped with advance lights. After the Second World War, PCC streetcars purchased from cities such as Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Kansas City, were similarly fitted with the roof-mounted lamps.’

    The new streetcars do have blue advance lights to indicate that they are fully accessible. However, would like to see the green “bull’s eye” to show us that they are streetcars, especially at night.

    See Sean Marshall’s blog.


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