Not content to rest on its laurels, the TTC is committed to modernization and continual improvement. With the original subway line along Yonge and University showing its age, a complete upgrade of the signal system was started in 2013. The Automatic Train Control project involves the installation of thousands of kilometres of cable and a new signalling system that will increase line capacity and keep the system operating safely and reliably. The surface network is also being modernized with a new route management system that tracks, manages, and communicates with its 2,000 buses and streetcars. The new vehicle information system and integrated operations network results in real-time data and greater efficiency, not only for the vehicles, but at the yards where buses and streetcars are maintained and stored.
These changes are being made alongside the renewal of the subway, streetcar, and bus fleet. Since 2000, the TTC has taken delivery of 82 new Toronto Rocket subway trains, 204 new low-floor streetcars, and over 1,800 new buses. The TTC is currently testing new battery-electric buses and is beginning the process to purchase the next fleet of subway trains for Lines 1 and 2.
With so many new and different vehicles, the TTC has also had to build new facilities. Two examples of recent investment in maintenance infrastructure are the Leslie Barns, which opened in 2014 for the new low-floor streetcars, and the McNicoll Bus Garage, which opened in 2021. Both are notable for their environmental features, including their green roofs. The Leslie Barns has an on-site storm water management pond, while the McNicoll Garage has solar panels and a metal transpired solar wall to harness solar energy. It even has a system to recycle the water used for washing buses. The greening of the TTC continues with its commitment to purchasing battery-electric and diesel-electric hybrid buses and renewing the streetcar network, which reduces air-polluting emissions on our roads.
Since 2000, the TTC has also seen the implementation of several transit expansion projects, including the opening of two subway extensions – Line 4 Sheppard in 2002 and the Line 1 Yonge-University extension to York University and Vaughan in 2017. A dedicated right-of-way for streetcars was opened on St. Clair Avenue in 2010. The revitalization of Queens Quay was completed in 2015, and in 2016, the streetcar network was expanded to serve the new West Don Lands community.
Aspects of modernization which are perhaps more visible to transit riders relate to improvements in communication, convenience, and integration with other modes of travelling. Today, customers rely on the TTC’s real-time information system to see when the next bus or streetcar is arriving. This system, introduced in 2009, now feeds next-vehicle information to apps, station screens, and stop displays. TTC continues to expand upon its Open Data offerings for app and web developers, with schedule and vehicle location data and real-time crowding information. This makes it easy for customers to plan their journeys across multiple modes of travel, integrating with ride share, bike share, and other transit agencies.
In 2009, the TTC introduced the PRESTO card, starting a staged roll-out across the system. The regional fare card system, developed by Metrolinx, is a step toward the modernization of the TTC’s fare system while allowing interchangeable use with 11 transit agencies in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, as well as Ottawa. By 2019, PRESTO had replaced the use of paper tickets, tokens, and passes, with the ability to load and renew fares online. PRESTO also facilitated the introduction of two-hour time-based transfers across the system after an initial trial on 512 St Clair streetcars starting in 2005. This feature makes using the TTC much more affordable and convenient especially for people running quick errands at several locations. In the coming years, the fare system functionality will further be expanded to include Open Payment, which will allow customers to tap on board with any credit or debit card.
The Toronto Transit Commission is the largest public transit agency in Canada and the third largest in North America, serving a daily ridership of over 1.7 million. For 100 years the TTC has been committed to safety, service, and courtesy. We hope you have enjoyed this exhibit of some of the highlights of the TTC’s rich and well documented history, and that you will be inspired to visit the City of Toronto Archives someday to explore the wonderful TTC Collection of documents, drawings, and photographs in greater depth.