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In Transit


Transportation is a building block of strong, integrated communities. With a global vision and deep local knowledge, our experts play a key role in the strategic planning and design of sustainable transit systems across Canada.


Transportation History

July 14, 2015

Our 1920s-themed Holiday extravaganza is quickly approaching. With this year’s successes and innovations in mind, let’s take a look back at a decade in which the Toronto Transit Commission was born and our city’s public transportation began to flourish: the Roaring Twenties.


Toronto gained its city status in 1834, a time when the population of 10,000 had no qualms traversing the city by foot, horse, and private carriage. In 1884, the Toronto Street Railway (TSR) finished building and began operating the first electric line between King-Exhibition at Strachan Avenue to the Exhibition. After failed attempts at public ownership in the decades following, voters approved municipal operation of all Toronto streetcar services in 1920, and all TSR lines became part of the newly-formed, city-owned Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) in 1921.

The TTC immediately began repairing the aged rail infrastructure, investing in 575 steel-bodied Peter Witt streetcars and replacing kilometres of track. The Toronto Railway Company and Toronto Civil Railways also experienced attempts at matrimony in the early 20s. By 1927, the TTC acquired ownership of the Toronto suburban railways, and all streetcars in Toronto became part of the commission.

The decline in ridership in the 1920s can be attributed to the development and affordability of the automobile, which offered Torontonians an alternative, more convenient mode of transportation. As a result, autobuses came into fashion in the early 1920s as a means of competition from various railway companies in an attempt to downturn the popularity of the automobile. In 1922, Toronto unveiled the trolleybus, which ran on rubber wheels but drew power from overhead lines like streetcars. This hybrid, however, was short-lived and abandoned by 1926, only to replace a portion of streetcars after WWII. Despite the stock market crash of 1929, the TTC continued to improve service into the 1930s, modernizing streetcars post-Depression.

Much like our City’s public transportation agenda today, the Toronto of the 1920s experienced much success, turbulence and unrealized potential. With a combination of tradition and innovation, our Toronto is constantly moving forward, whether by bus, streetcar, or subway. Let’s celebrate a great year in transportation, Gatsby style.

Image Source: Wikipedia

By Ivana Velickovic



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