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Toronto says goodbye to its historic tramways
Posted on 20/01/2020

TransportCanada

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Toronto's last trams from the 1970s will be replaced with more modern and spacious models. The disappearance of this symbol of Canada's largest city has left some inhabitants conflicted, with others welcoming the change.

The end of an era

The end of an era
© Leonid Andronov / 123RF

It's the end of an era. In Toronto, the last historic tramways, the Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV), were retired late last year, almost 50 years after they were commissioned. The last of these trains, with their emblematic cherry red colour, will gradually be replaced by more spacious and modern trams.

Justifying this decision, manager of project development for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Scott Haskill, explained that the trains are outdated and inaccessible for those with limited mobility. He went on to say that they've reached the end of their natural lives.

"We need bigger streetcars," said Haskill, speaking with AFP. "The routes are so busy and we needed more capacity." The authorities point out that a large majority of the old trains have already been replaced by a new generation of trams, built by the Quebec-based company Bombardier.

While the need to modernize Toronto's transportation system seems essential, the decision to replace these historic streetcars is not necessarily unanimous among residents. "I like these streetcars because they have a history in Toronto," explains Kenneth, a regular user of these old trains, to CTV News.

"I don't care. There are so many traffic jams in the city that the trams are very slow," says Bernadette Beaupré, 61, who says she spends an hour a day on public transport and finds the tram network "absolutely horrible".

New streetcars, same problems

New streetcars, same problems
© William Perugini / 123rf

The new trams, called Flexity Outlook streetcars, have a rounder design and are similar to the models used in Berlin and Brussels. They're longer, larger and can hold more passengers.

However, these newer models continue to share the road with cars and bicycles and won't solve the traffic problems in Toronto. The city is home to nearly 6 million inhabitants, and has only four metro lines.

According to the CTT, most of the old trams will be dismantled and recycled. Some will be preserved and added to its historic fleet, composed of tram models dating from 1923 and 1951. Others will be displayed in museums, such as the Illinois Railway Museum near Chicago.