Little Bits of History

Underground

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 30, 2012

Yonge Street subway under construction

March 30, 1954: The Yonge Street subway opens. In 1861 Toronto Street Railway Company (TSRC) was granted a 30 year franchise by the City of Toronto. The private company would provide public transportation. Horse drawn streetcars were available during warmer months and horse drawn sleighs were used in the winter. Thirty years later, the City took over the service for a short time before writing another 30 year franchise to the still privately owned TSRC.

In 1892 the first electric streetcar was put into service and by 1894, all of Toronto was using them. In 1912 Toronto Civic Railway (TCR), a city department, began operation and expanded streetcar routes as Toronto itself grew. In 1920 Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC) was established as TSRC’s franchise was coming to term. TTC took control in 1921 and added 575 new Peter Witt streetcars and began to rebuild streetcar tracks. That same year the first motor buses were introduced.

TTC took over control of many of the greater metropolitan area transport systems and by the end of the 1920s was running bus lines, ferry services, and the streetcars. Services kept expanding and by 1933 new markers were used (white poles with red bands at top and bottom) and placed to identify stops. During World War II usage increased as women entered the job market. More traffic meant upgrades – again. After five years of construction, Canada’s first subway line opened on this date. Later that afternoon, the last streetcar was taken out of service.

Today called the Yonge – University – Spadina line, it is still in service and operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC – renamed in 1954). It runs weekdays from 6 AM to 1:30 AM with changes in schedules for weekends and holidays. The line is 18.8 miles long now and has 32 stations. In 2009 a sweeping plan was announced to upgrade the system. Newer trains and more stops would be built and environmental concerns would be addressed. The plan will take about a decade to complete. There are many ways to pay for your trips on the subway: Metropass, weekly or daily passes, or a conventional pass. Fares are $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for seniors and students, and 75¢ for children.

No one is asking what happened to all the homeless. No one cares, because it’s easier to get on the subway and not be accosted. – Richard Linklater

You don’t look at each other on the subway. – Simon Pegg

Her logic was a combination of half-truths and clichés, her worldview a compound of misconceptions deriving from a history of our nation as written from the perspective of a subway tunnel. – John Kennedy Toole

I would solve a lot of literary problems just thinking about a character in the subway, where you can’t do anything anyway. – Toni Morrison

Also on this day:

Pencil plus – In 1858, erasers were added to pencils.
Seward’s Folly – In 1867, the US purchased Alaska from Russia.
It’s a Knock Out – In 1842, a general anesthetic was first used for surgery.

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