This week’s column is a little bit different aside, that is, from its appearance in a Monday rather than a Sunday edition of the Toronto Sun.
I’ve always been interested in the past, present and future of public transportation here in our city.
Unlike many other members of the media, I will refrain from applauding or criticizing the plan as presented the other day by Premier Ford’s government. One thing that really intrigues me is the suggestion that the 15-stop, $10.9-billion “Ontario Line” will be operated using some yet-to-be defined vehicles described all-to-briefly as “smaller, automated trains.”
Could it be an attempt to resurrect a previous provincial government-sponsored project, the Krauss-Maffei magnetic levitation experiment that was to take place on the CNE grounds back in the mid-1970s?
That project was an abject failure. All the government will tell us is that work on that new line will be underway by the end of 2020 and open to the public well before the end of that decade. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what they’ve got up their collective sleeves.
I was disappointed however by the premier’s not-so-vague censure of our TTC, suggesting the commission should stick to scheduling and vehicle maintenance. I’ll react to his comments by simply offering the following four examples of the many transit innovations that were conducted right here in Toronto that unlike the government’s K-M system did work.
Premier, please show some more respect for OUR TTC!
— Even while electricity was still bewildering the general public, Belgian-American Charles van Depoele and Torontonian J. J. Wright were busily
perfecting ways of moving large crowds of people safely and efficiently using that wonder of the age. They developed vehicles that were the
forerunners of today’s streetcars and, in an upgraded variation, light-rail vehicles. The boys’ earliest successes were carried out in the summer
of 1885 at the Toronto Industrial Exhibition. Wright assisted van Depoele in perfecting a way of safely collecting electricity from an overhead
wire using a “witch’s broom,” the trolley pole, a method still in use in various parts of the world.
— More maneuverable but with less carrying capacity, the TTC introduced the electric trolley coach in 1922, the year after the commission was
established. Much improved versions of the quiet, pollution-free trolley bus were in city service until 1993.
— In September of 1931, in an attempt to move more people more quickly, the TTC purchased four double-deck buses from New York City’s Fifth
Avenue Coach Line. They were the predecessors to today’s high capacity articulated buses that operate on the TTC’s busiest bus routes. The
bus in this view is on the TTC’s first bus route, Humberside.
— Our TTC really got ahead of the pack by promoting, building and opening the country’s first rapid transit line. It was also the first in the
world to open after the end of the Second World War. Work began on our subway in late 1949 and was officially opened to the first of its man
millions of paying (!!) passengers on March 30, 1954. Here the TTC proudly displays one of the new Yonge subway trains at the 1953 edition of