What's the difference between a 'night car' and a streetcar which runs at night?

Toronto's regular service surface transit lines operate for roughly 18-20 hours each day, generally between 5 am and 1 am. During the four 'overnight' hours from 1 to 5, surface transit is provided on a basix matrix of routes designated the BLUE NIGHT NETWORK in TTC parlance.

Thus, while streetcars are a common sight on Toronto's streets after dark, only two carlines operate during the overnight hours, 301 QUEEN and 306 CARLTON. The most recent subtraction from Toronto's all-night trams was 312 ST. CLAIR, which was bussed in March, 2000.

TTC Night Cars At-A-Glance

Daytime Route Night Route Notes
501 QUEEN301 QUEENOne of Toronto's two remaining night car routes in 2000.
502 DOWNTOWNERN/ANight service is provided over most of this route by routes 301, 322 and a small part of 303.
503 KINGSTON ROADN/ANight service is provided over portions of this route by routes 301, 322 and a small part of 303.
504 KINGN/A304 KING service discontinued 2/16/92. Night service is provided over the outer ends of this route by routes 313 and 303.
505 DUNDASN/ANo night service over most of this route; its outer ends are served overnight by 303, 306 and a small portion of 313.
506 CARLTON306 CARLTONOne of Toronto's two remaining night car routes in 2000.
508 LAKE SHOREN/ARush hour route, seven trips daily; western portion is served by 301 cars overnight.
510 SPADINAN/ANo night service is provided over this route. 317 SPADINA bus service discontinued 2/16/92 (day service then provided by 77 Spadina buses).
511 BATHURST301 BathurstNight buses cover the route of the 511 streetcars and Bathurst 7 buses between the Exhibition and Steeles Ave. Bathurst 7D Night bus service replaced night cars on February 26th,1966
512 ST. CLAIR312 St. ClairOperated with streetcars until 3/19/00. Overnight service bussed, extended from Gunn's Loop to Jane Station thereafter.

In days of yore, TTC provided 24-hour streetcar and bus service on a pared-down network of routes, mostly within the old City of Toronto. In 1968, two years after the opening of the crosstown Bloor-Danforth subway, Toronto's all-night transit routes comprised only the 13 lines shown in the table below (with streetcar routes in CAPITAL LETTERS).

  • Bathurst
  • Bloor-Danforth
  • Coxwell-Kingston Road
  • Junction
  • KING
  • Lansdowne
  • Ossington
  • Spadina
  • Yonge

The 1980s, already distant, have nostalgically been called TTC's glory days: ridership soared, and the system's long-standing record of safe and efficient service had become the stuff of legend. Subway expansion may have come to a temporary standstill, but TTC rail operations were marked by the opening of the Scarborough Rapid Transit (ICTS) line, the addition of CLRVs and ALRVs to the streetcar fleet, and the rebuilding of A8 PCC cars.

In February, 1987, TTC launched an initiative to extend 24-hour transit service to a greater percentage of Metro Toronto's population. By 1986, for example, night service had been expanded but marginally since 1968:

  • 504 KING
  • 506 CARLTON
  • 512 ST. CLAIR
  • Bathurst Night 7D
  • Bloor-Danforth Night 10
  • Bloor West 49A
  • Danforth East Night 93
  • Coxwell 22A
  • Junction 40
  • Lansdowne 47
  • Ossington 63
  • Spadina 77
  • Yonge Night 97B

TTC's expanded night service would carry a new name--the BLUE NIGHT NETWORK--with blue-themed accoutrements to accent its identity: 300 series BLUE NIGHT route numbers, reflective blue bands on car and bus stop signs, and distinctive blue destination sign exposures. In addition a separate map and timetable booklet showing all night route schedules was provided to patrons.

TTC added, subtracted and modified BLUE NIGHT ROUTES as the need arose throughout the 1980s and '90s. Also during the '90s, the BLUE NIGHT NETWORK system map was added to the TTC's comprehensive RIDE GUIDE. Previously, night routes had not been displayed on TTC's system maps, but were listed by name only.

The recession years of the late 1980s/early '90s resulted in service cutbacks at TTC, and several night routes fell under the axe. The 304 KING night car, with its low ridership, was eliminated during this period, ostensibly due to its low ridership. No replacement bus was provided, as the outer portions of the route were served by buses, and the long mid-section was closely paralleled by the 301 QUEEN cars.

That said, night service has expanded overall between 1987 and 2000; today, 20 routes serve Toronto's all-night commuters on a network covering the length and breadth of Metro Toronto (although only two are operated by trams). Most operate on half hourly headways, although the 300 Bloor-Danforth and 320 Yonge buses, which replace the subway lines overnight, operate on 15 minute headways.

  • 300 Bloor-Danforth
  • 301 QUEEN
  • 302 Danforth Rd.-McCowan
  • 303 Don Mills
  • 305 Eglinton East-Lawrence
  • 306 CARLTON
  • 307 Eglinton West
  • 308 Finch East
  • 309 Finch West
  • 310 Bathurst
  • 311 Islington
  • 312 St. Clair (bus after 3/19/00)
  • 313 Jane
  • 316 Ossington
  • 319 Wilson
  • 320 Yonge
  • 321 York Mills
  • 322 Coxwell
  • 324 Victoria Park
  • 329 Dufferin


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