Rush Hour in Toronto is Nothing New!


Diagram Showing Homeward Passenger Movement.  Civic Transportation Committee, Toronto: 1915.  From the digital collections of the University of Toronto
Diagram Showing Homeward Passenger Movement. Civic Transportation Committee, Toronto: 1915. From the digital collections of the University of Toronto

Construction on the tunnel borer launch site for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway expansion is really picking up along Steeles, east of Jane Street. While waiting in traffic this morning it reminded me of an interesting map I’d seen in the University of Toronto digital map collection. Dating from 1915, this diagram shows the movement of passengers between 4:30 and 7 p.m. during the mid-week. It shows that some 57 000 people were departing from the downtown area on their way home. Toronto’s first subway didn’t open until 1954 so all of the traffic was at street level. The map includes data for passengers who travelled on the civic line of electric street railways, car passengers and jitney passengers. Jitneys were a brief fad in Toronto, as David Wyatt of the All-Time List of Canadian Transit Systems notes, “private automobile owners began using their cars to pick up fare-paying passengers. In some cities hundreds of cars were engaged in the trade, jitney associations were formed, routes established, and service hours announced. Operators serious about profitability began modifying their cars to carry more passengers, and the motor bus was born. Nearly everywhere the activity was eventually stamped out by municipal or provincial legislation.”  The map doesn’t cover our location at Jane Street and Steeles, but it’s an interesting archival document that demonstrates that gridlock is not a new concern for Toronto!   You can check the progress of the subway expansion on the TTC website.

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