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Toronto Transit Commission

Toronto Subway

Toronto Subway Line 1 Yonge–University
Toronto Subway Line 2 Bloor–Danforth
Toronto Subway Line 3 Scarborough
Toronto Subway Line 4 Sheppard
Toronto Subway Line 5 Eglinton (under construction)


The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is a public transport authority that operates buses, streetcars, subways, and rapid transit lines in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The TTC operates 149 surface transit routes, of which 148 routes make 243 connections with a subway or rapid transit station during weekday rush hours. In 2005, the TTC carried 431,220,000 passengers, 2,368,000 passengers daily (1,397,000 revenue passengers). The TTC employed 10,650 personnel in 2005. (TTC Operating Statistics, 2005).


The TTC operates the third most heavily-used urban mass transit system in North America (after New York City's New York City Transit Authority and the Mexico City Metro).[1] As of 2004, there are four rapid transit lines (three are referred to as "subways", while the fourth is mostly elevated; see Toronto subway and RT), with a total of 70 stations (counting Bloor-Yonge as two separate stations because of its two separate names), as well as 149 connecting "surface" routes (buses and streetcars). The average daily ridership exceeds 2.3 million passengers: 1,197,500 through bus, 246,100 by streetcar, 45,000 by intermediate rail, and 855,300 by subway (American Public Transit Association, 2005). The TTC also provides door-to-door services for persons with physical disabilities known as WheelTrans. An approximate 2,900 trips are made through this service daily. Colloquially, the streetcars were known as "red rockets" (nickname originally given to old PCC streetcars painted bright red - now retired); hence the use of "Ride the Rocket" in advertising material for the TTC (which uses the phrase to advertise the entire system), and the use of the word "Rocket" in the names of some express buses. The entire system is also promoted as "The Better Way".


Privately operated transit services in Toronto began in 1849. In later years, a few routes were operated by the city, but it was 1921 when the city took over all routes and formed the Toronto Transportation Commission to operate them. During this period service was mainly provided by streetcars. In 1954, the TTC adopted its present name, opened its first subway line, and greatly expanded its service area to cover the newly formed municipality of Metropolitan Toronto (which eventually became the enlarged city of Toronto). The system has evolved to feature a wide network of bus routes with the subway lines as the backbone. Template:See

Past namesEdit

TTC Chairs and Chief General ManagersEdit

File:1949 Toronto TTC YongeSubwayConstruction1.jpg

Transit modesEdit

The TTC currently operates an extensive network of subways, streetcars, and buses in Toronto:

Subway/RT system (1954-present)Edit

File:St George Toronto Subway.jpg
Main article: Toronto subway and RT

The Toronto subway/RT system consists of the Yonge-University-Spadina Line, a U-shaped line started in 1954 and last extended in 1996; the Bloor-Danforth Line, an east-west line started in 1966 and last extended in 1980; the Scarborough RT, a partly elevated light rail line built in 1985 which continues from the Bloor-Danforth Line's eastern terminus; and the Sheppard Line, opened in 2002. The three subway lines use the same technology, while the Scarborough RT has many differences.

Plans were made for a streetcar subway along Queen Street, which were upgraded to a full subway in 1964, from the Humber loop to Greenwood, curving north to connect to the Bloor-Danforth Subway. All that ever materialized of this line was an incomplete east-west station structure under Queen station at Yonge, which remains in existence today. The Queen Subway plan was cancelled in 1974 in favour of new lines in the suburbs.

In the mid-1990s, work began on an Eglinton West subway line, but the project was cancelled before significant progress was made. Construction of this line is no longer a priority for the TTC.

A current focus for the TTC's rapid-transit expansion is a short extension bringing the western branch of the Yonge-University-Spadina Line north to York University, Steeles Avenue and Vaughan Corporate Centre in York Region. The Government of Ontario announced on March 23, 2006, that it will provide $670 million for this extension, about one-third of the expected cost. Another is the eastward extension of the Sheppard Line into Scarborough. Recently, there has also been debate over the fate of the Scarborough RT. A solution is a near top priority as the line is currently overcrowded, and will soon require much investment to keep it running past 2015.

In September 2006, Toronto City Council approved a contract for 234 cars from Bombardier Transportation. There are plans for the Yonge subway to be operated on a 24-hour basis.

Streetcars (1861-present)Edit


Toronto's streetcar system is one of the few in North America still operating along classic lines and has been operating since the mid-19th century (horsecar service starting in 1861 and electric since 1891). Streetcar service dates back to the Toronto Street Railways horse-drawn cars and continues today with the current electric cars. New TTC routes since the 1940s have generally been operated by other modes, and the less-busy streetcar routes have also been converted. Streetcar routes are now focused on the downtown area, with none running farther north than St. Clair Avenue, about 5 km from Lake Ontario.

Buses (1921-present) and trolley coaches (1922-1925, 1947-1993)Edit


Buses are a large part of TTC operations today, but before about 1960, they played a minor role compared to streetcars. Buses began to operated in the city in 1921 and became necessary for areas without streetcar service. After an earlier experiment in the 1920s, trolley buses were used on a number of routes starting in 1947, but all trolley bus routes were converted to bus operation between 1991 and 1993. The TTC always used the term trolley coach to refer to its trackless electric vehicles.

Gray Coach (1927-1990)Edit

Main article: Gray Coach

Gray Coach Lines was a suburban and regional inter-city bus operator founded in 1927 by the TTC. Gray Coach used inter-urban coaches to link Toronto to points throughout Southern Ontario. In addition, Gray Coach operated tour buses in association with Gray Line Tours. The main terminal was the Metropolitan Toronto Bus Terminal on Elizabeth Street, downtown. In 1954, Gray Coach expanded further when it acquired suburban routes from independent bus operators not merged with the TTC as it expanded to cover Metro Toronto. By the 1980s, Gray Coach faced fierce competition in the inter-urban service in the GTA. The TTC sold Gray Coach Lines in 1990.

Wheelchair-accessible services (1975-present)Edit

Main article: WheelTrans

The TTC also runs WheelTrans, a para-transit service for the physically disabled with special buses designed to accommodate wheelchairs. Since the 1990s, the TTC has focused in providing accessible services on buses, RT and subway operations.

Ferry service (1927-1962)Edit

The ferry service to the Toronto Islands was operated by the TTC from 1927 until 1962, when it was transferred to the Metro Parks and Culture department. Since 1998, the ferry service is run by Toronto Parks and Recreation.

Operations and other informationEdit

Most TTC operations are based either at the William McBrien building at 1900 Yonge Street (over Davisville subway station), or at the Hillcrest complex at Bathurst and Davenport Streets.


The TTC makes connections with other transit agencies at terminals in Toronto:


Most TTC surface routes terminate at loops, side streets or subway station complexes. The TTC system is one of the few mass transit systems in the world where many surface routes can be accessed inside a paid-fare zone common to other routes or subway lines. This feature allows boarding via the back doors at terminals, reduces the usage of paper transfers, and the need of operators to check for proof-of-payment.

There are some larger loops at terminal buildings other than subway stations:


The TTC fare system accepts cash, tickets, tokens, and transit passes. Current adult fares are $2.75 for a single trip, or $2.10 each for 5 trips using tickets or tokens. Passes are available by the day, week, or month, with a 12-month subscription option.

The provincial Minister of Transportation has announced plans to introduce the GTA Farecard, a unified smartcard-based payment system for the entire Greater Toronto Area similar to the Octopus Card used in Hong Kong.

Schedules and informationEdit

Before the use of the TTC website ([1]), TTC patrons were able to obtain route information from various sources:

  • Paper schedules and system maps from drivers and collector booths
  • Fax number to obtain schedules and maps
  • TimeLine: Most stops had a phone number to obtain the schedule for the select route. This system was removed due to Year 2000 constraints. Route information is now accessed by InfoPost and TTC Info number 416-393-INFO (this replaced the old numbers 481-4252 and 481-4544 in the 1980s). Some stops now display a time schedule for the particular route.
  • "What's On" and "Rocket Rider/TTC Customer News" pamphlets located on most vehicles

Transit Information Centres:

  • TTC Head Office - Davisville Station
  • TTC Info Centre Bloor-Yonge Station - closed
  • Metro Toronto Convention Centre - closed

Additional TTC information is circulated by:

  • The Rocket Rider - TTC Customer News
  • What's ON


The shelters used by the systems are split between CBS Outdoor (formerly Viacom Media) (with ads) and Toronto Transportation. A total of 4,100 shelters are managed by Toronto Transportation and most from the former transportation departments of the municipalities that made up Metropolitan Toronto.


Advertising is commonplace and prominent in all TTC vehicles and locations. In fact, some subway stops are periodically entirely "repainted" on the inside using large plastic decals, to the wishes of a paying corporate advertiser; this is also done with individual buses and all cars in a particular subway train. In 2005, the TTC began installing video screens in subway stations to display advertising, news, weather, and safety information. This project is run by Toronto based ONESTOP Media Group. The agency contracted to post ads on the TTC is CBS Outdoor. However, the amount of money the TTC receives for allowing advertising on its property is very small. For the year ending 2003, the TTC received 2.3% of its revenue from advertising, or almost $17 million.

The TTC sells a line of merchandise through Legacy Sportswear, which is available online or at their store "TTC Transit Stuff" at the Union subway station. When Matt Blackett, publisher of Spacing Magazine, approached the TTC in 2005 with an idea to sell buttons, each of which represented the colour scheme and design of a particular subway station, the TTC declined. Blackett went on to manufacture the buttons himself. Dubbed "the civic pride fashion statement of the year" by the National Post, the buttons were a success, selling tens of thousands.


The TTC utilizes several types of voice and data communications. There are three main systems. The first is the system used by Operations, Security and Maintenance. This system operates on five UHF conventional frequencies. Channels 1, 3, 4 and 5 are used for day to day operations, while Channel 2 is reserved for the WheelTrans service.

Busses and Streetcars use the CIS (Communications and Information System) system. This system is spread out city wide with transmit facilities throughout the city. Each bus and streetcar has a TRUMP set onboard. This is attached to a transponder receiver which allows CIS operators to track the location of the vehicle using Signposts. The TRUMP also allows the operators and CIS operators to send and receive text messages for such things as short turns and route adjustments. There is also the option of voice communications between the operator and the CIS operator. There is also a built in emergency option, whereby a vehicle operator presses a red alarm. This instantly notifies the CIS operator and enables a "hot mic", which allows the CIS operator to monitor all the activity on the bus. The CIS system was conceived in the late 1970s and was fully implemented in 1991.

The third system is used by the Subway system. This is called the Wayside system. Replacing the old devices which communicated by the third rail are new UHF MPT-1327 Trunking radio sets. The Subway system is divided into 3 separate systems, each representing it's respective subway line. This new trunking system allows Transit Control to communicate directly with a single train, a zone encompassing several trains, or the entire line. The Scarborough RT is not included in this system. They continue to use a single channel UHF system, much the same as the system used by operations staff.

All of these systems can be monitored by a scanner capable of the UHF Low band (406-430MHz). For more information on monitoring the various systems used by the TTC, please visit Transit Toronto at [2]

You may also hear numeric codes being paged across the radio and/or the overhead paging system. For a list of what these mean, check out [3].

Safety systemsEdit

Safety features provided by the TTC include:

  • Request Stop Program on surface routes (9 p.m.-5 a.m.) (excluding streetcar routes); female passengers travelling alone can request the driver to stop at points between bus stops (no such service is currently offered for male passengers). The program was started in 1991, due largely in part to the activities of serial killer Paul Bernardo (also known as "the Scarborough Rapist").
  • Designated Waiting Areas (DWA) on subway and RT platforms; these are well lit, have intercoms, and are at the location where the guard car stops
  • Yellow Passenger Assistance Alarm strips on subway and RT cars since the early 1980s
  • Approximately 800 cameras monitoring activities on the subway system
  • TTC Special Constables


Each year the TTC auctions off items left on vehicles and not claimed. They are sold in lots, rather than individually. In 2005, the TTC launched an online auction via ebay Canada and Rite Auction Services.

Support fleetEdit

Main article: TTC Support Fleet

Current routesEdit

Subway routes:

For bus routes, see TTC bus routes.
For streetcar routes, see Toronto streetcar system.
For subway routes, see Toronto Subway and RT


Most of the Toronto Transit Commission's staff are members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113. Total membership (2005) is approximately 8,000 members.

Unionized transit workers in Toronto began with:

  • Amalgamated Association of Street Railway Employees of America in 1892
  • Division 30 of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Railway Employees of America in 1893
  • Division 113 Chartered - Amalgamated Association of Street Railway Employees of America in 1899
  • Amalgamated Association of Street and Railway Employees of America in 1903
  • Amalgamated Transit Union in 1964
  • Local 113 of the Amalgamated Association of Street, Electric Railway and Motor Coach Employees of America in 1952

Other than drivers and supervisors, the TTC also employs support staff to keep the system running:

  • cleaners to keep stations, bus shelters and other TTC property clean
  • garbage staff to pick up trash on vehicles and in stations
  • clearing TTC roadways during winter months
  • engineers and support staff inspecting subway systems
  • mechanics that maintain all the commission vehicles
  • blacksmiths to make special parts of the TTC

TTC strikesEdit

TTC strikes have affected TTC service on various occasions: [4]

  • 1952: Strike shuts down TTC service for 19 days
  • 1970: Strike, 12 days
  • 1974: Strike, 23 days
  • 1978: Strike, 8 days
  • 1989: Labour disruption, 41 days. [While technically not a strike, service was significantly disrupted during this period.]
  • 1991: Strike, 8 days
  • 19 April 1999: Strike closed TTC service for two days, ending when a labour agreement was reached. [5]
  • May 29, 2006: The TTC was shut down for one day as a result of a labour dispute. Unionized workers began picketing TTC sites on the morning of May 29 in response to a dispute over shift changes for unionized TTC employees due to the unionized workers feeling that management had broken the Collective Agreement between the management and the union. The TTC shut down transit services. The TTC called it an illegal strike, but the union said it was a lockout. The Ontario Labour Relations Board declared it an illegal strike and ordered employees back to work. The union agreed to have its employees return to work and services began to resume at 3 p.m. on May 29, 2006. It was later made public that only the support staff had walked out; TTC management had requested that the drivers and collectors not cross the picket lines to avoid disputes.


Most TTC staff wear uniforms consisting of a light blue shirt with TTC crest (long and short sleeves) and grey slacks. Other garments include maroon jackets with grey accents, dark navy sweater vests, and golf-style shirts, and grey shorts are worn according to weather. Hats are generally worn by senior staff, namely supervisors, these hats are familiar to those worn by police officers or salvation army members. Staff tend to wear toques during the winter months. Some vehicle operators wear a blue baseball cap with white lettering "TTC". Some of the maintenance staff wear dark blue or green coveralls with TTC crest along with an orange fluorescent jacket with a large yellow X with the "TTC" lettering on the back.

Prior to the current design, the uniform consisted of a light brown shirt and medium brown slacks and blazers. Some drivers now wear a navy blue polo shirt with white trim on the collar.

Honour GuardEdit

The TTC Honour Guard represents the TTC at city ceremonies and police funerals. Members wear caps, white shirts, blue blazers with Honour Guard crests and grey pants. The unit was formed in 1994 from TTC Operations supervisory ranks following the funeral for Toronto Police Constable Todd Baylis. The unit had 19 members as of 2001.

Special ConstablesEdit

A contingent of over 88 Special Constables patrol TTC properties. They have the same powers as the Toronto Police Service to enforce:

In addition, they can also issue fines to persons in violation of TTC By-Law 1.

Constables have three designations:

  • Subway Patrol
  • Mobile Patrol
  • Criminal Investigations.

Subway Patrol members are visible in the subway system: they mostly patrol on foot, while the Mobile Patrol members are visible on TTC vehicles and TTC property. They wear uniforms distinct from the standard TTC or Toronto Police uniforms. This consists of a black jacket and powder blue shirt with a special constables crest on both shoulders and black cargo pants. They are armed with batons and oleoresin capsicum foam, wear body armour and carry portable radios.

TTC Mobile Constables also drive in the white unmarked and marked cruisers (blue stripes with crest) Ford Crown Victoria, similar to the ones used by the Toronto Police Service.

Recruits must undergo 11 weeks of in-class training and are partnered with a Coach Officer for six months after their graduation. Coach Officers are all graduates of the Ontario Police College - Coach Officer Program.

The Constables patrol within the region served by the TTC.


  • Constable
  • Sergeant
  • Staff Sergeant
  • Superintendent
  • Deputy Chief
  • Chief
  • Chief General Manager



  • The TTC Story by Mike Filey
  • Not A One Horse Town by Mike Filey
  • Reflections & Recollections Transfer Points January 2005
  • Independents Take Over - TTC Goes Metro Wide Transfer Points August-September 2004
  • Toronto Transit Commission Goes Metro Wide Transfer Point December 2004
  • TTC Archives
  • TTC Special Constables - Official link
  • Legacy Sportswear
  • ATU 113 History
  • Honour Guard shows TTC's true colours Coupler February 2001
  • TTC Honour Guard
  • Subway and RT Route Map - TTC - September 1998
  • TTC Ride Guide April 1982
  • TTC Ride Guide June 1982
  • TTC Ride Guide May 1984
  • TTC Ride Guide January 1987
  • TTC Ride Guide January 1988
  • TTC Ride Guide January 1990
  • Toronto Transit Ride Guide June 1998
  • Numerical list of routes, with route direction and operating division - TTC February 1999
  • TTC Special Constables - Your Community and Safety Partners 2006

See also Edit

External linksEdit


  1. Toronto transit chief says searches unlikely (2005). Retrieved on 2007-02-03.
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