Toronto Street Cars

Nothing says “Toronto” to me as much as its iconic red street cars.

For several years, I rode the 504 King car every day on my way to and from work, but when I first moved to Toronto, it took me a while to figure out where and how I was expected to board the street cars. The only street cars I was familiar with were the trams in Amsterdam. In that city, there are raised concrete platforms along the tram tracks where you stand to wait for the tram.

Although some street-car stops in Toronto have platforms similar to those in Amsterdam, most stops are marked with a small sign attached to a light pole. The signs are easy to miss if you don’t know where to look. You wait on the sidewalk beneath the sign, just as you would wait for a bus at a bus stop. The street car pulls up, traffic in the lane between the street car and sidewalk stops, and you step out into the road to board the street car.

Street cars have been operating continuously in Toronto since 1861, and Toronto’s system is the largest in North America in terms of ridership, number of cars, and track length. Its eleven lines, most of which crisscross downtown and all of which connect with the subway, have a daily ridership of over a quarter of a million people.

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