The end of an era: the retirement of the CLRV and ALRV streetcars

The Toronto Transit Commission was not always the expansive network that we know today - it began by offering only streetcar service in 1921. In the years following World War II, many cities across North America and Europe began to abandon streetcars in favour of buses. However, the TTC continued to invest in streetcars and purchased extra cars from Cleveland, Birmingham, Kansas City, and Cinncinati. The end seemed near for Toronto's streetcars by the mid-1960s as plans for abandonment surfaced, but still they persevered – despite being called as "obsolete as the horse and buggy," by then Metro Toronto chairman, William Allen.

The TTC moved forward to develop new streetcar models to service Toronto. The first Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV) Streetcar entered September 30, 1979. Its younger – and longer – sibling, the Articulated Light Rail Vehicle (ALRV) Streetcar, joined the workforce only a few years after. I'm sure many of you remember stepping onto those iconic cherry red streetcars making your way to your first days of school, to first dates, to your first job, and many more memorable events.

Nearly 100 years later, Torontonians from all over depend on the TTC's streetcar service. This year, after decades of faithful service, the ALRV and CLRV streetcar models will be retired from the Toronto Transit Commission's fleet. The last ALRV was officially retired in September, after offering free rides along Queen Street on Labour Day. In the meantime, a citizen funded project called 'A Streetcar Named Toronto' has transformed one of the few remaining operational CLRVs into a work of art. Try to catch CLRV #4178 in all its painted glory in the last few months of service along the 506 Carlton and 501 Queen routes. As 2019 comes to a close, so does the life of the CLRV, signalling the end of another era in Toronto's transit history.