Maps Toronto Transit

Mapping TTC crowding during a pandemic

IMG_6314Rear door boarding on TTC buses is just one measure the TTC has taken to address the COVID-19 crisis

Note to readers: I have since written an updated version article (with a revised map) on Spacing’s website.

While most people are urged to stay home as much as possible during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are those who must carry on. These include health care workers, staff at grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential businesses, and others who can not work from home. There are also those who continue to require transit to undertake essential errands, such as medical appointments.

Thankfully, most transit systems have carried on. Through GO Transit has experienced an 80% drop in ridership since the beginning of March, it continues to operate all rail lines and most bus routes, providing fewer trips, but maintaining the same span of service hours. The TTC discontinued most express routes, but it maintains a grid of frequent bus and streetcar services.

However, the TTC and Brampton Transit continue to struggle with crowding on certain routes. Brampton Transit — which has resorted to an “enhanced Saturday service” level –will only carry half a bus’s seated capacity to enforce social distancing, which has resulted in “closed-door” situations where buses won’t stop for waiting passengers. As a result, several routes are now discontinued during peak periods so that buses are sent to address crowding elsewhere. Brampton Transit serves many shipping warehouses, including two Amazon fulfillment centres, which remain busy during this time.

Meanwhile, the TTC is struggling with morning rush hour crowding on ten bus routes:

  • 29 Dufferin
  • 35 Jane
  • 41 Keele
  • 44 Kipling South
  • 96 Wilson
  • 102 Markham Road
  • 117 Alness-Chesswood
  • 119 Torbarrie
  • 123 Sherway
  • 165 Weston Rd North

These routes, mostly clustered in the city’s northwest, are illustrated below.

TTC_COVID_CROWDSMap of overcrowded early morning TTC routes during the COVID-19 pandemic
(click for larger version)

Routes 117 and 119 are industrial services, connecting warehouses and food service plants. These industries — like the infamous Fiera Foods plants served by Route 119 — rely on low-paid, often temporary workers, with early morning starts. Certain warehouses and many food-service plants also have very early starts to the day. It would be tough for workers to accommodate the TTC’s request to travel at later times. Routes 96, 102, and 165 also extend into major industrial areas. Route 123 serves the Metro supermarket chain’s distribution centres on Dundas Street and The West Mall.

Many of these routes run through Toronto’s neighbourhood improvement areas, which are identified by the city as those requiring additional investment due to issues such as poor access to services and higher concentrations of low-income families. In addition, routes 41, 96, 119, and 165 serve the Humber River Regional Hospital, one of Toronto’s largest health care facilities, while the 96 Wilson also directly serves Etobicoke General Hospital.

Though it would be best for private essential employers to stagger shifts during this unprecedented time, there may be a need for the TTC to redirect some resources towards these parts of the city.

Maps Toronto Transit

A departure from TTC wayfinding improvements

TTC stops have improved with the addition of route numbers, but this bus stop is deceiving 

In the last few years, the TTC has made significant improvements in its maps, signage, and wayfinding standards. It also introduced new streetcar and subway fleets, retrofitted elevators into older stations (all but one streetcar line and a majority of subway stations are now fully accessible), and opened a new subway extension. Though overcrowding, bunching, and weekend closures continue to be aggravations, it is important to recognize where the TTC has improved.

Specific changes to TTC wayfinding include a new simplified system map, better signage at subway stations, introducing standard signage for diversions, scheduled closures and construction notifications, and revising the classic TTC bus stop.

However, two recent changes represent an unfortunate departure from these improvements.

Election Maps Politics Toronto

Voter turnouts in the 2018 Toronto municipal election

2014 was a watershed year for municipal voter turnout in Toronto. After a disastrous four years of Rob Ford as mayor, 54.7 percent of all eligible voters went to the polls, electing John Tory. That was the highest voter turnout in decades, even higher than 1997, when Torontonians elected Mel Lastman to lead a newly amalgamated City of Toronto. In 2010, when Rob Ford was elected mayor, turnout was 50.4 percent, compared to 39.3 percent in 2006 and 38.3 percent in 2000.

Four years ago, the mayoral race was especially competitive. Progressive Olivia Chow was the initial front-runner against Ford, but Tory (who previously ran for mayor in 2003) pulled ahead as Chow’s campaign floundered. Late in the campaign, Rob Ford dropped out due to health concerns, so his brother Doug took his place. Among the three frontrunners, Tory got 40.3 percent of the vote, while Doug Ford took 33.7 percent. Chow only got 23.1 percent. Voters also elected seven new councillors that year, and returned Rob Ford to Ward 2.

After two elections in which over half the number of eligible voters took part, in 2018 voter turnout fell to just 40.9 percent. This was hardly surprising. John Tory cruised to victory despite a challenge by former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, while a sudden reduction in the number of wards confused voters and crushed the hopes of many council hopefuls and their supporters.

Though 769,000 electors voted in this mess of an election, voter turnout varied across the city. In Ward 23, Scarborough North, only 34.1 percent of eligible voters turned out to the polls. In Ward 7, Humber River-Black Creek, just 34.6 percent of electors voted. Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York, had the third worst turnout, with just 34.8 percent.

Areas with the highest voter turnout were Midtown and east end Toronto. Ward 14, Toronto-Danforth had the highest turnout, where 49.2 percent of electors cast a vote. It was followed by Ward 15 and Ward 12 (both of which had 48.5 percent turnout) and Ward 19, where 48.4 percent of electors went to the polls.

Wards 12, 14, 15, and 19 had interesting and competitive council races. In Ward 14, the race featured two progressive incumbents, while Ward 19 was one of just two races in which an established city councillor was not running for re-election. Wards 12 and 15 also had competitive races. However, in Ward 4, Gord Perks won re-election easily.

Yet Ward 23 had an open council race in which no incumbent was running. And Ward 7 was one of the most interesting and important races of 2018; this is where Giorgio Mammoliti was finally defeated after years of campaign violations, buffoonery, and embarrassments.


2018 voter turnout by ward (alternate version available here)

Voter turnout has consistently been low in Toronto’s northwest and northeast corners. In 2014, Ward 8 and Ward 41 (which made up parts of new Wards 7 and 23) had the lowest numbers of electors casting a vote. Turnout was highest in more affluent neighbourhoods, especially in places like Midtown Toronto, the Kingsway neighbourhood in Etobicoke, and in Toronto’s East End. What surprised me mostly was the poor turnout in Ward 10 in 2018.


2014 voter turnout by ward (alternate version available here)

The difference in voter turnout across the city is more apparent at the neighbourhood level. With the poll-level results available through Toronto’s Open Data Catalogue, I allocated the poll results to each of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods, while adjusting the numbers based on the number of votes cast in the advance polls in each ward. The map below shows voter turnout at the neighbourhood level in 2018.

2018 voter turnout by neighbourhood (alternate version available here)

What is immediately apparent is that voter turnout is highest in many neighbourhoods surrounding Toronto’s downtown core, while turnout is lowest in the former City of York, in northwestern Toronto and parts of Scarborough. Areas of high voter turnout tend to be affluent neighbourhoods with high levels of home ownership. These neighbourhoods include the Kingsway, Lawrence Park, Leaside, Cabbagetown, Rosedale, Forest Hill, Swansea, the Beaches, and Leaside. Many of these areas also have active residents’ associations. With Ryerson professor Myer Siemiatycki, I looked at the results of previous municipal election voter turnouts in a report published by the Maytree Foundation.

Downtown, areas with major condominium developments also have lower turnout, especially in places like the Waterfront, CityPlace, Liberty Village, and the Bay Street corridor. These areas are more likely to have younger residents and many renters. Engaging voters both in downtown condos and those living in the inner suburbs remains a challenge. While voter turnout was much higher in 2014 across the city, the same basic patterns are evident.citydata-nabes-turnouts-2014.jpg
2014 voter turnout by neighbourhood (alternate version available here)

Election Politics Toronto

The Scarborough Six: mapping the results of the 2018 election

In 2014, Scarborough elected ten city councillors. Since that election, one councillor, Ron Moeser, died in office, while two others, Raymond Cho and Chin Lee, resigned to run for provincial office. Cho, representing the Ontario PCs, was successful, while Lee, running for the Liberals, was not. Neethan Shan was elected in Ward 42 in a by-election to fill Cho’s seat. Jim Hart was appointed in Ward 44 by council after Moeser’s death, and Miganoush Megardichian was appointed in Ward 41.

With the new 47 ward model approved by city council for the 2018 election, Scarborough was allocated the same number of wards, though boundaries shifted to reflect changes in population. Two of the new wards – 44 and 47 – had no incumbent running, opening those wards up to new voices.

With Premier Doug Ford’s move to cut city council to just 25 wards, Scarborough went down to just six wards. In Wards 20 and 22, incumbents faced off against each other. Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, famous for his support of the Scarborough subway extension, decided that the odds were against him and withdrew his candidacy. De Baeremaeker’s old ward was cut in half and redistributed evenly to new Wards 21 and 24. Had he decided to run again, it would have meant running against fellow council veterans Michael Thompson or Paul Ainslie, both of whom had a geographic advantage in not losing any of their former territories.

I previously mapped the results in Ward 22, where Jim Karygiannis defeated Norm Kelly, Ward 23, where conservative businesswoman Cynthia Lai won, and Ward 25, where Jennifer McKelvie defeated incumbent Neethan Shan.

Of the remaining three races in Scarborough, only Ward 20 was interesting. There, incumbents Michelle Holland-Berardinetti and Gary Crawford ran against eight challengers. In Wards 21 and 24, Councillors Thompson and Ainslie won with over 65 percent of the vote and nearly every poll. I did not map the results of those two races.

Ward 20

Ward 20 saw two right-leaning councillors, Gary Crawford and Michelle Holland-Berardinetti face off against each other. Both were reliable Tory allies; Crawford served as budget chief under both Rob Ford and John Tory, while Holland-Berardinetti was council’s innovation advocate.

Crawford was first elected in Ward 36 in 2010 after serving as public school trustee. He previously ran for the provincial Progressive Conservatives in 2007. Ward 36, whose southern boundary was Lake Ontario, was Scarborough’s most affluent ward and included the Scarborough Bluffs. Holland-Berardinetti, the spouse of former Liberal MPP Lorenzo Berardinetti, was also first elected in 2010, representing Ward 35. Both councillors were re-elected by wide margins in 2014.

Bill 5 resulted in Wards 35 and 36 merging, with only a small part of old Ward 36 shifting to new Ward 24. The number of voters in each of the two former wards was almost equal, but Crawford won a very a tight race; only 411 votes separated the two incumbents.

Though Mohsin Bhuiyan originally registered to run against Crawford in the 47-ward model, he placed first in five polls in former Ward 35, in the Dentonia Park and Scarborough Junction neighbourhoods. He placed third overall, with 10 percent of the vote, but he drew more votes from Holland-Berardinetti than from Crawford. Suman Roy, a food advocate endorsed by the Toronto Star and NOW Magazine, was only able to get 5.4 percent of the vote, coming in fifth.

2018 Election - W20.jpg

Ward 20 Scarborough Southwest
Candidate Votes Percent
Gerard Arbour 1,187 4.0
Mohsin Bhuiyan 2,910 10.0
Paulina Corpuz 1,813 6.2
Gary Crawford 10,505 35.7
Michelle Holland-Berardinetti 10,094 34.3
John Letonja 160 0.5
Robert McDermott 367 1.3
Suman Roy 1,582 5.4
Curtis Smith 541 1.8
Bruce Waters 246 0.8

Ward 21

Michael Thompson was first elected to Toronto City Council in 2003. In the 2014 election, he won with over 80 percent of the vote. In the larger new ward, the share of the vote fell to 69 percent. While he’s a thoughtful conservative and a good constituency councillor, Thompson also supported Doug Ford’s unilateral cut to city council.

Ward 21 Scarborough Centre
Candidate Votes Percent
Paul Beatty 1,638 6.8
Vivek Bhatt 993 4.1
Fawzi Bidawi 1,035 4.3
Zia Choudhary 1,014 4.2
Randy Bucao 949 4.0
Ismail Khan 311 1.3
Arfan Naveed 349 1.5
Raphael Rosch 545 2.3
Nur Saifullah 132 0.6
Michael Thompson 16,542 69.1
Zamir ul hassan Nadeem 448 1.9

Ward 24

Paul Ainslie was first elected to Toronto City Council in 2006, after being appointed to council in a neighbouring ward in 2005. A principled centrist, Ainslie served on Tory’s executive committee and was re-appointed in 2018. Ainslie won in 2018 with two-thirds of the vote in Ward 24, placing first in all but three polls.

Ward 24 Scarborough-Guildwood
Candidate Votes Percent
Paul Ainslie 15,131 66.8
Itohan Evbagharu 132 0.6
Reddy Muttukuru 1,323 5.8
Priyanth Nallaratnam 1,896 8.4
Keiosha Ross 405 1.8
Sajid Saleh 841 3.7
Michelle Spencer 1,933 8.5
Emery Warner 393 1.7
Morlan Washington 592 2.6
Election Maps Politics Toronto

Mapping the 2018 candidates for Toronto City Council, Bill 5 edition (updated)

Toronto City Council voting on a legal challenge to Bill 5, August 20, 2018

September 21 update: nominations are now closed, and I updated the map. Councillor Cesar Palacio dropped out in Davenport; this practically ensures that fellow incumbent Ana Bailao will be re-elected. There are 19 candidates in Toronto Centre, where popular incumbent Kristyn Wong-Tam is facing former mayoral candidate and provincial minister George Smitherman and appointed councillor Lucy Troisi.

I’ll add a proper update later this weekend.

September 19 update: the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in the province’s favour today, issuing a stay of the September 10 Ontario Superior Court ruling against Bill 5. So with just over a month before election day, October 22, there’s now certainty that the 25 wards imposed by a vindictive Premier Ford will be used.

That puts out a lot of good candidates looking to run in the 47-ward structure. Candidates Dan Fox in North York, and Chris Moise and Ausma Malik downtown, will not run. This is unfortunate and very disappointing.

According to city hall reporter Arianne Robinson, incumbent councillors Paula Fletcher and Mary Fragedakis will run against each other in Toronto-Danforth.

Without the City of Toronto’s online list of candidates live, I haven’t been able to make authoritative updates to the 25-ward map of candidates, but I have been trying to keep up with the news. Once the city’s list is live, I’ll make a definitive update.

September 6 update: Councillor John Filion, who previously announced his retirement from municipal politics, registered to run in Ward 18 – Willowdale in the new 25 ward election. He felt his registration was necessary to prevent a non-progressive candidate from running (possibly David Shiner) and winning against relatively unknown candidates. It’s a terribly unfortunate result of going to 25 wards from 47 — it shuts out many fresh new faces and favours incumbents and other politicians with strong name recognition.

Because of rapid population growth in the North Yonge corridor, Filion’s North York ward was essentially being split into two. Filion had endorsed his executive assistant, Markus O’Brien Fehr for the Ward 28 council seat, and Lily Cheng on Ward 29. If the challenge to Bill 5 is successful, and the 47 wards are restored for the 2018 election, Filion will not run.

In other developments, the first battle between two progressive-leaning incumbents under the 25 ward model has emerged in Ward 12 – Toronto-St. Paul’s. Josh Matlow, an outspoken critic of John Tory’s transit plans, is running against longtime incumbent Joe Mihevc. Matlow is affiliated with the Liberals, while Mihevc is aligned with the NDP.

There are now nine wards in which two sitting councillors are running against each other.

I have updated the 25 ward map below.

Bill 5, the so-called “Better Local Government Act, 2018,” was passed by the Ontario Legislature on August 14. This legislation reduces the number of council seats from the 47 wards approved by City Council to just 25, despite three years of study by independent experts and several rounds of public consultations. Passed in just over two weeks from the Premier Doug Ford’s surprise announcement on July 27 — the same day nominations for city council were scheduled to close — Bill 5 disrupted the municipal election campaign already in progress. Two hundred and ninety-two candidates had registered to run in one of the approved 47 wards.

Bill 5 is vindictive, grossly unfair, and sets a bad precedent for provincial meddling in municipal affairs. It only targets the City of Toronto, which rejected Doug Ford’s late run for mayor in 2014, and delivers a blow to hundreds of candidates that registered to run in good faith. But legally, the City of Toronto must follow the province’s edict and elect only 25 councillors with wards based on the current provincial riding boundaries.

Before Bill 5 was announced, there was an excellent chance for renewal at Toronto City Hall. Councillors Janet Davis, John Filion, and Mary-Margaret McMahon announced their retirements, while Shelley Carroll and Chin Lee resigned to run in the June 2018 provincial election. Councillors Ron Moeser and Pam McConnell died in office, replaced by appointees who promised not to stand for election (though Lucy Trosi later broke this promise). Councillor Josh Colle announced that he, too, was not going to run for re-election, but his father, defeated MPP and former councillor Mike Colle, would run instead. Meanwhile, Justin Di Ciano and David Shiner never registered.

With three new wards, this meant that there were up to thirteen open races without an established incumbent. With only 25 wards, all but two wards are guaranteed to have at least one incumbent running for re-election, and at least ten wards with two incumbents running against each other.

On Monday, August 19, nominations opened for any candidate wishing to run in one of the 25 wards. Nominations will close at 2:00 PM on September 14, just over five weeks before election day on October 22. Council candidates who registered under the 47 ward system or the 25 ward system may also withdraw by that date.

There remains a faint hope that a court case, scheduled to be held on Friday August 31 will delay or overturn the provincial legislation, allowing the planned 47-ward election to go ahead.

I expect that many candidates, especially progressive incumbents and challengers not eager to face off against each other, will wait until then to decide. But sadly, it means that great people like Chris Moise, who registered to run in Ward 25, will withdraw from the race.

I will be maintaining and updating a Google map of the 25 ward races, similar to my 47-ward map. This new map appears below.

As of Tuesday, August 28, there are eight wards in which two incumbents are running against each other. For example in Ward 1, Etobicoke North, Ford ally Vincent Crisanti will be running against Michael Ford, nephew of late mayor Rob Ford and Premier Doug Ford.

But downtown, no incumbent councillors or high-profile candidates have registered under the new boundaries. I suspect they, like many of us, are waiting to find out what will happen on August 31, and that if the 25 wards go ahead, we will lose some promising new choices for city council.

Election Maps Politics Toronto

Why Doug Ford’s plan for 25 Toronto wards is an attack on local democracy

Ridings and 47 Wards.jpgMap of Doug Ford’s proposed 25 wards and the City Council-approved 47 ward boundaries

Late last week, the newly elected Ontario Progressive Conservative government announced that they would be imposing a new electoral map on the City of Toronto, a decision that would eliminate the new 47 wards approved by Toronto City Council, replacing them with the same 25 boundaries used by the federal and provincial governments.

It’s very clear that Premier Doug Ford’s plan, which requires a new piece of legislation, ironically titled the “Better Local Government Act,” is vindictive and mean-spirited because it only affects the City of Toronto, which rejected Doug Ford’s 2014 mayoral bid. It quashes the hopes of many young, racialized, and progressive candidates looking to change the make up of a council that has generally supported Mayor John Tory’s agenda. It is unfair to candidates that ran in good faith, started campaigns, raised funds, and spent money hiring staff, purchasing materials, and renting campaign offices.

But most of all, Ford’s actions are an attack on local democracy because of the haste with which they are being made, at the end of the nomination period for those approved 47 wards. They ignore the years of study by independent experts and several rounds of public consultations. They also benefit Toronto’s suburban areas, which are growing at a far slower rate than downtown Toronto, North York Centre and Etobicoke’s waterfront area, which will be disproportionately affected by this arbitrary decision.

Each new ward was designed to have an average population of 61,000, with a population range of between 51,800 and 72,000 (+/- 15%). They were designed to last for four election cycles, to be re-drawn before the 2034 election.

It is worth noting that the independent experts looked at using the 25 federal/provincial boundaries twice. In the first study, they were rejected early on because they would not “meet the tests of effective representation.” The federal boundaries, which are also adopted by the province of Ontario, are based on population counts from the 2011 Census, and are already seven years out-of-date, while the consultants were tasked with developing new ward boundaries to last 16 years. Even a 50-ward solution (which mimics the old 44 wards based on the 22 federal ridings that were established in 1996 and came into effect with the 1997 federal election) would result in severe variations in population.

Ridings and 2026 pop variation.jpgHow the 25 ridings, if used for Toronto’s ward boundaries, will vary in population by 2026

After Tory’s Executive Committee tasked the Toronto Ward Boundary Review team to re-examine options that would see fewer than 47 councillors elected in 2018, they re-examined using the 25 ward boundaries. They found that in 2026, three of those wards — Toronto Centre, Etobicoke-Lakeshore, and Spadina-Fort York — would have populations over 30% higher than the ward average in 2026. Willowdale and University-Rosedale would also have had much larger populations than the city average.

The review team also looked at a 26-ward option that mostly maintained the riding boundaries but added a new ward downtown out of the Toronto Centre and Spadina-Fort York constituencies and adjusted boundaries in southern Etobicoke. Even then, Etobicoke Centre and Etobicoke-Lakeshore would still have populations over 20% higher than the city-wide average. Despite making some adjustments for population growth, this option would have not have corresponded with some ridings, and was also not recommended.

26 Wards and 2026 pop variation.jpgHow the modified 26 ridings, if used for Toronto’s ward boundaries, would have varied in population in 2026

For those reasons, and to support local representation, the 47-ward solution was once again recommended, and was approved by City Council in November 2016. Councillors Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5) and Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7) then appealed the new boundaries to the Ontario Municipal Board, but they were dismissed. The 47-ward solution has survived despite it all.

Mayor Tory may have brought back decorum to the mayor’s office after an embarrassing period under Doug Ford’s brother Rob, but he has pushed an austerity agenda, and has failed to show leadership on police reform, wasteful infrastructure spending, and safe streets for pedestrians and cyclists. His initial reaction, to call for a referendum on Ford’s plan to cut Toronto’s council, was a characteristically weak response; he was later pushed into supporting a legal challenge by an angry public. Meanwhile, some of Tory’s allies, like Di Ciano, David Shiner, and Glenn De Baeremaeker, support Ford’s actions.

Ford’s attack on local democracy is an insult to candidates who have already put their names forward for election and launched their campaigns. It undermines the City of Toronto’s legislated responsibility to decide its own ward boundaries. And it will only exasperate existing disparities in council representation.

Brampton History Maps Transit

Brampton Transit’s evolution from a laggard to a leader

The introduction of Brampton Transit’s Zum service in 2010, serving York University, was a major turning point for the suburban transit agency

For TVO this week, I discuss Brampton Transit’s impressive ridership growth. In the last five years, Brampton Transit has bucked the trend of stagnant ridership numbers encountered elsewhere in the Greater Toronto Area and North America in general. I argue that Brampton’s success in improving transit ridership comes from sustained investment over many years, the move to a grid-based route structure, and the introduction of Züm, a basic network of semi-frequent, limited-stop bus routes, many of which extend outside of Brampton’s boundaries.

I grew up in Brampton, and I have collected maps since kindergarten; my collection includes several old Brampton Transit maps. These maps help to illustrate the progress made since the 1980s, when the level of service provided was quite basic.

Brampton Transit began operations in 1976 after the old Town of Brampton’s local bus service was amalgamated with the dial-a-bus service operated in Bramalea. (Brampton amalgamated with most of Chinguacousy Township in 1974, including Bramalea.) In 1980, Brampton Transit operated 14 routes, serving a community of just under 150,000 people. Buses operated no later than 9:00 or 10:00 PM, Mondays through Saturdays, and many routes operated with long, meandering loops. Apart from GO Transit, there were no connections to nearby communities.

Brampton Transit - December 1980 front
December 1980 Brampton Transit map

By 1988, service was offered on Steeles Avenue to Humberline Drive in Etobicoke, where connections could be made to TTC buses on the 96 Wilson and 73 Royal York buses, but didn’t continue east to Humber College. Brampton Transit Route 14 Torbram served Westwood Mall in Mississauga, and connections to Mississauga Transit could be made at Shoppers World. But still, service levels were poor — you were lucky to get a bus every 30 minutes outside of rush hours. Permanent Sunday service wouldn’t come for another ten years. Notable are the four lettered bus routes — A, B, C, and D — that made direct connections to the four weekday GO train round trips to and from Toronto.

Brampton Transit’s maps of the era are also historically notable because of their advertising: only one of the Burger King locations shown on the 1988 map still exists. Other restaurants advertised — the Old Beef Market, O’Henry’s, and Queen’s Pizzeria — are no longer in business.

Brampton Transit - 1988
September 1988 Brampton Transit Map



Brampton Transit Maps published in the 1990s and early 2000s were printed on newsprint, and used only a two-colour scheme: blue for regular routes, and orange for rush-hour routes. Service to new subdivisions was often provided by way of long one-way loops, which is an inexpensive way of serving new areas, but are inconvenient and slow for potential riders.

Notable in the 2001 map below is Route 77, launched in the 1990s as a joint Brampton Transit/Vaughan Transit route between Bramalea City Centre and Finch Station along Highway 7. Route 77 was a very slow way to get to the subway from Brampton, but it operated until Züm began service in 2010. In 2001, bus service on 11 Steeles was finally extended to Humber College’s main campus.

Brampton Transit, 2002
September 2001 Brampton Transit map

2005 marked an important turning point for Brampton Transit, as it introduced a grid-based route system on major arterials. Route 14 Torbram, for example, no longer served Bramalea City Centre, but continued north, providing a core north-south route; many other routes were straightened, including Route 2 Main north of Downtown. Changes since May 2005 saw service frequencies improved, more local routes added, and improved connections.

Brampton Transit - 2005 front
May 2005 Brampton Transit map

The current system map, dated September 2017, can be found on Brampton Transit’s website.

Infrastructure Urban Planning

Ontario’s land use scandal: Another greenfield hospital for Niagara

IMG_8728 (2)-001

Recently, I discussed the greenfield locations of new hospital and post-secondary institutions in Ontario, focusing on the new St. Catharines Hospital site and the Orillia campus of Lakehead University, but also mentioning the proposed sites of a new hospital for Windsor, and an university campus in Milton. Hospitals and educational institutions are primarily funded by the province, which likes to promote sustainable development policies such as the Greenbelt, and mobility hubs at major transit nodes.

The trouble with these new sites, located far from each city’s urban centre, is that they are difficult to reach by walking, cycling, or public transit. They don’t support downtown businesses, they ignore other potential urban land parcels (often former industrial sites), and are not in accordance with the province’s own land use policies.

I recently returned to Niagara Region to examine Niagara Health’s plan to consolidate health services outside of St. Catharines (where it already merged two urban hospital sites to a single suburban location). It proposes consolidating most health services located in five municipalities (Niagara Falls, Welland, Port Colborne, Fort Erie, and Niagara-on-the-Lake) into one site, at the corner of Biggar and Montrose Roads, south of Niagara Falls’ urban area, but adjacent to an interchange with the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW).

Niagara Falls, like most of urbanized Niagara Region, is de-industrializing, with modest population growth. Employment is largely dependent on public sector jobs, such as the education and health services, and the city’s tourism industry. As a large employer, the hospital should be as accessible to its employees, as well as its patients, as possible.

Map of current Niagara Health sites and proposed new hospital

The proposed hospital site is at the corner of two two-lane country roads, in an area without sidewalks. To the north and west is a golf course; to the south is a Hungarian community hall, farm fields, and a few exurban ranch houses. The land was donated in 2013 by a local business family, but last fall, Niagara Falls City Council was considering purchasing an additional 20 acres for staff parking.

History Toronto Transit

Mapping Toronto’s street railways in the TTC era (1921-2016)

Yonge and St Clair, north-west
Yonge Street at St. Clair Avenue, 1922. The TTC was busy in its first few years joining together the various street railway systems together and expanding services. Here, work is underway to extend city streetcar service to Glen Echo Loop and connect with the former Toronto Civic Railway’s St. Clair line.  City of Toronto Archives Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 1571

Third in a three-part series — also see Part 1 (1861 to 1891) and Part 2 (1891 to 1921)

In 1921, the Toronto Transportation Commission was established to provide all transit services within the City of Toronto, on a complete cost-recovery basis. Within the City, there would be a single fare for all regular services, including free transfers, with additional fares for services outside the city limits.

The TTC immediately took over the operations of the Toronto Railway Company and the city-owned Toronto Civic Railways and began to unify the two systems. It bought new equipment, and replaced worn-out rail, carhouses, and other facilities. It introduced the first transit buses to Torontonians, and three decades later, Canada’s first subway.

Toronto’s streetcar system expanded through the 1920s, but stagnated through the 1930s, including the loss of almost all of Toronto’s radial railways. But it wasn’t until 1947-1948 that Toronto’s street railway network entered an era of decline, as trolley coaches, diesel buses, and subways chipped away at the streetcar’s dominance.

By the late 1960s, the TTC was looking to eliminate streetcars entirely by 1980, once the Queen Street Subway opened. Of course, that subway line never opened, and the streetcars remained. It wasn’t until the 1990s, though, that the network entered a renaissance.


Within two years, the TTC quickly modernized the streetcar system. New streetcars — known as Peter Witts — were ordered and the oldest of the Toronto Railway Company’s cars were immediately scrapped. The TTC unified the TRC and Civic systems, replaced the radial railways within city limits with city services, and added new routes such as Coxwell and Bay. The City took over the Toronto & York radials as well, but handed their operation over to Ontario Hydro. The TTC also replaced much of the worn out rails, and built new turning loops at the end of streetcar lines replaced crossovers and wyes. This improved operations and allowed for larger, single-ended streetcars to operate on more routes.

The TTC also introduced buses. In the early 1920s, buses were were slow, small and less comfortable than streetcars, but they had their advantages. The TTC’s first bus route, 1 Humberside, provided a direct, single-fare ride through the South Junction neighbourhood to TTC streetcars at Dundas Street; the Toronto Suburban’s Crescent streetcar line couldn’t compete and was soon abandoned. The TTC also experimented with a trolley bus route on Merton Street and Mount Pleasant Road between 1922 and 1925; it was replaced by an extension of the St. Clair streetcar.


s0648_fl0227_id0001Trolley bus on Merton Street, June 20, 1922. City of Toronto Archives, Series 648, Fonds 227, Item 1

History Maps Toronto Transit

Mapping Toronto’s streetcar network: The age of electric – 1891 to 1921

People & Historic shots. - [1920?]-1987

TRC streetcars on Queen Street, c. 1910. Note the old TSR horsecars used as trailers behind the electric cars. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 722, Item 18

This post continues from The Horsecar Era: 1861 to 1891 

In 1891, after obtaining a new 30-year franchise, the Toronto Railway Company went to work electrifying Toronto’s streetcar system. The TRC was a private company, led by William Mackenzie and James Ross. Mackenzie made his fortune in railway construction; together with Donald Mann, he would go on to build a railway empire before it collapsed by the end of the First World War. Mackenzie would also control other street railway and interurban lines in Ontario, including the Toronto and York, the Toronto Suburban, and the Niagara, St. Catharines, and Toronto.

By 1894, the TRC became fully electrified, providing quicker and more reliable service. In the twenty-five years that followed, new electric railways radiated out of Toronto to points such as West Hill in Scarborough, Port Credit, Woodbridge, and even as far away as Lake Simcoe and Guelph. But after a short sprint of service expansion within the City of Toronto, the TRC refused to extend its services beyond Toronto’s city borders of 1891. The City of Toronto was forced to form its own public streetcar company in 1911, and became determined to take complete control over urban transportation services once the TRC’s franchise came to an end.

Maps presented only show revenue routes, including peak period variations and some seasonal routes, such as Exhibition services. I omit some minor service and route changes. I welcome constructive feedback as I plan to re-publish these maps elsewhere.


Electrification of the Toronto Railway Company began when the Church Street line was converted on August 16, 1892. The last horsecar made its trip on McCaul Street on July 18, 1894. The TRC extended several routes in Toronto’s west end, including King, Dovercourt, Bloor, Dundas and Carlton.

The Davenport Street Railway Company began operations on September 6, 1892 between Toronto Junction at Keele and Dundas Streets, and Bathurst Street at the CPR tracks, a short walk to TRC Bathurst Cars. The Weston, High Park & Toronto Street Railway Company began operating the same year within the Junction, from Evelyn Crescent to Keele Street, later extending east to the Toronto City Limits at Humberside Avenue. These two companies merged in 1894 to create the Toronto Suburban Railway.

The Toronto and Mimico Railway was the city’s second radial. After a troubled start in 1892, it extended west to New Toronto by 1894. The Toronto and York built east from Queen Street and Kingston Road to Blantyre Avenue in Scarborough Township. Two short spurs served the town of East Toronto (near today’s Main/Gerrard intersection) and down to the Beach.