September 1, 2011

Today, Thursday, September 1, marks the 90th anniversary of the Toronto Transit Commission as a public service in the City of Toronto.

On September 1, 1921, the Toronto Transportation Commission (renamed Toronto Transit Commission in 1954) began serving the citizens of a rapidly growing Toronto. The TTC took over a mix of private and municipal street railways comprising the central system of the Toronto Railway Company, the Toronto Civic Railways’ five municipal routes and three routes of the Toronto & York Radial Railway within the city. Adult fares were set at seven cents and tickets were four for 25 cents.

From the very early days of horse-drawn streetcars by preceding companies, to the birth and revitalization of the TTC in 1920s, to the opening of Canada’s first subway in 1954, to today’s newest subway trains and expansion plans geared towards getting people around the city more quickly, the TTC has become an integral part of everyday life in Toronto, and has played a fundamental role in the quality of life in our communities.

“After 90 years of service – and nearly 28 billion customers carried – the TTC has grown to become one of the most visible and vital public service organizations in the GTA,” said TTC Chair Karen Stintz.

“The TTC is a tremendous service with tremendous responsibility. It has the third largest ridership in North America, after Mexico City and New York – cities with populations greater than eight million people. Customers board our vehicles almost 500 million times each year,” Stintz said.

In 2010, the TTC set an all-time record of 477.4 million rides, surpassing its previous all-time total of 471.2 million set in the previous year. In 2011, the system is on track to carry more than 490 million customers.

TTC ridership has increased each year for eight consecutive years. One billion passengers are carried approximately every 26 months. The TTC is expected to welcome its 28 billionth customer next month.

“Today is a great day to say thank you to our customers, and thank you to all the dedicated men and women who operate and maintain our great system,” said Chief General Manager Gary Webster. “Safety, Service, Courtesy are the cornerstones of the TTC. These three words have defined our past successes and continue to guide our goals for the future.”

“Ridership is growing. The system is expanding. And we’re moving ahead to meet the population growth in Toronto. The TTC improves the lives of all Torontonians, even those who are not transit users because a great transit system is the backbone of any great city,” Webster said.

The TTC is Toronto’s transit system. It’s the better way. The TTC serves 2.6 million people in the city of Toronto, and many of the 4.5 million people in the GTA, with a network of four subway lines, 11 streetcar lines and 171 bus routes. The TTC also operates a specialized service, Wheel-Trans, for people who require accessible transportation. Nearly 90 per cent of all local transit trips in the GTA are made on the TTC. With more than 1.5 million customers on a typical weekday, the TTC maintains a cost-recovery rate of more than 70 per cent from the farebox – one of the highest on the continent.

A brief look back
On January 1, 1920, the citizens of Toronto voted in favour of municipal operation of all local street railways, and at the request of the city, the Province of Ontario passed legislation creating the Toronto Transportation Commission later that year. The TTC began operating service on September 1, 1921.

Here are some notable milestones from 1921:
• The Humberside bus route is inaugurated – the first bus route to be operated as a feeder service to a streetcar line. All bus routes established in the 1920s were designed as feeders to the heavier-used streetcar routes. Buses were of the double-deck, open-top variety.
• The first 350 new, steel-bodied Peter Witt streetcars, and 225 trailers, are introduced on the Broadview route. By year’s end the cars were installed with a new-type stove and forced-air heating system.

For more information about TTC's History.

View all articles from September