TTC's Blue Night Network

Goodbye, St. Clair Night Car

Y2K Eve in Toronto


The OFFICIAL TTC website

Transit Toronto

Rob Hutch's TTC Streetcar Photos

Robert King's Urban Rails


Roger DuPuis

Rochester, N.Y., USA
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DOWNTOWNER by NIGHT: CLRV 4043 Makes a service stop at Queen and McCaul. Rob Hutch photo.

While sprawling, non-descript suburbs vie for pride of place, the heart of Canada's largest city still beats most strongly at its geographic centre: colloquially called "Downtown Toronto," but encompassing thriving neighbourhoods beyond the soaring skyscrapers of the city's core. Surface transportation in Downtown Toronto is still dominated by trams, invariably called streetcars by the locals. Most of Toronto's key Downtown arteries are served by trams running on conventional street trackage, and the lines using this trackage are among the Toronto Transit Commission's most heavily-trafficked surface routes.

Cars packed with standees are common throughout the frenetic workday. Toronto of old was noted for its slavish devotion to the Protestant work ethic at the expense of fun and frivolity: "New York run by the Swiss," Peter Ustinov once called the place. No more. Latter-day Torontonians like to party after hours with a fervour equal to their daytime toil, and true to form, large numbers of them take transit right up to the end of regular day/evening service.

Unlike many LRT systems in North America--which do not operate during the overnight hours--TTC maintains service on a scaled-down network of streetcar (and bus) routes between roughly 1:30 am and 5:00 am, when the subway system is shut down. Headways of 30 minutes or better prevail on TTC's so-called "Blue Night Network," and moderate-to-heavy loads are not uncommon. Overnight peaks result when the bars and clubs close down, and again as shift workers from various businesses make their way to and from their jobs.

Night-time rail photography remains a difficult but rewarding pursuit, and most readers will appreciate the logistical and safety concerns encountered by railfans plying their trade by night in a large city. Chasing the ghost of the perfect night shot has found me stalking the darkened streets of Toronto on many nights, despite living a tiresome four hour drive away. Honing my photographic technique is only part of why I venture out into the night, however. I never fail to revel in being lulled into a state of serene relaxation by the gentle rhythm of the cars as they roll across Toronto, bathed in the surreal glow of the city's distinctive goose-necked streetlamps.

Climb aboard for a nocturnal odyssey aboard the trams that prowl the streets of TORONTO BY NIGHT.

PCC 4500 pauses at Bingham Loop during an all-night fan trip, 28 May, 2000.