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Are these TTC uniforms better than the current kit?

Posted by Chris Bateman / January 19, 2013

ttc uniformThe TTC's maroon uniforms might not be much longer for this world if Andy Byford has anything to do with it. Late last year the CEO revealed the Commission was planning to give its roughly 5,000 uniformed workers a new look, something "symbolic of a new approach."

Toronto's transit provider has been constantly refreshing its uniform since its inception in the 1920s. In the early days, the mostly-male workforce wore smart button-up jackets in winter, and shirts and ties in summer. Instead of name tags, the motormen and supervisors wore special hats bearing their job title while on duty.

TTC drivers uniformWomen's uniforms were similar to men's, minus the pants (even in winter.) The female guides who sold tickets and dispensed advice to travelers had their own hats, first a basic peaked headpiece, later a sort of wedge cap, and a shoulder bag for transfers and coins. A shirt and tie was mandatory for both sexes, regardless of season.

As I mentioned last week, the TTC also ran Toronto's ferry fleet until the 1960s and as such had suitably nautical outfits for its lake-going staff. Pilots and shore workers wore a basic sweater with the initials "T.T.C." stitched into the front with a soft cap, elegantly modeled by a decidedly shifty looking ferry worker in one of the photographs below.toronto ttc uniformThe Toronto Concert Band, the now-defunct internal orchestra that gave regular public performances between 1925 and 1939, also had their own clothes. The band's conductor, Richard Hayward (shown in the band photo above on the left), was an ex-military bandsman who, according to Mike Filey, had served with the Royal Irish Rifles and the Queen's Own Rifles in Canada. He would re-join the military at the outbreak of the second world war and the dissolution of the music group.ttc miss torontoBack on the customer service side of things, the post-war grey and red work clothes worn by the women in these pictures were officially modeled by Irene Ayers, Miss Toronto 1946, after she was awarded the title at the police games that year. According to the write-up in the Toronto Star, Ayers worked as a guide at Queen and Yonge and used her $300 winnings to take a modeling course in New York while keeping her day job at the TTC.ttc uniformA supervisor (left) and guide (right) in winter apparel from the 1940s.ttc uniformThe arrival of the 70s saw the TTC's smart duffel coats replaced by practical nylon raincoats and, naturally, slightly flared pants. As the confused looking model below illustrates, this look is (style-wise) the approximate halfway point between the first official outfits and today's 1990s-era uniform.

As in the 1940s, the 1970s uniform came with a selection of seasonal jackets. The basic suit could be covered by a lighweight windbreaker or a longer, waterproof zip-up coat. The peaked hat worn by some of today's operators, a slight variation of the older style, had also arrived.ttc uniformWhat do you think of the TTC uniforms of old? Should Byford's new look adopt some of the classic stylings from the 1940s or should it go for something closer to the style of today? More importantly perhaps, should the TTC ditch the maroon and go for something a little cooler? If so, what?

MORE IMAGES:toronto ttc uniformtoronto ttc uniformtoronto ttc band

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photos: City of Toronto Archives.



Steven / January 19, 2013 at 03:26 am
- Women looked professional, even feminine.
- Men looked professional too.

Bring back those uniforms.
It brings an air of respect.
DandK replying to a comment from Steven / January 19, 2013 at 07:35 am
In 2012 the staff wouldn't look the same in those uniforms though - you know they would find a way to add baseball caps and muddy shoes and undone ties etc to the mix just like they do now. After all catholic school uniforms look neat too, until the kids get their hands on them! I say just leave the uniforms alone, they're not attractive but I doubt whatever the designers come up with will be either.
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W. K. Lis / January 19, 2013 at 09:11 am
Because of WWI and WWII, the uniforms were influenced by the military. Hence, the military looking hats and uniform. The drivers and operators still get the military hat, but disregard it in favour of the baseball style hat.
Michelle / January 19, 2013 at 09:47 am
Red and black, or red and dark grey. I wonder why they went to maroon in the first place because it's not part of their brand, and it is a horrible, drab colour. As long as they don't go the sloppy way of the golf shirt and DIY bottoms, as have school and hospital uniforms, I don't have an opinion on the details of the style.
Bingo / January 19, 2013 at 09:49 am
New uniforms? I thought our beloved ttc was cash strapped? Why not resume wheel trams for dialysis patients Andy?
Notahipster / January 19, 2013 at 10:50 am
they did looked very professional and i bet they acted like it too.
alex replying to a comment from Notahipster / January 19, 2013 at 11:24 am
Notahipster: and i bet they didn't get spit on and passengers paid the full fare too.
Josh / January 19, 2013 at 11:39 am
The people in these photos look like they took pride in what they did and that was reflected in the way the wore their uniforms.

I say we change the people before the uniforms.
PN / January 19, 2013 at 11:48 am
Since they're getting new uniforms, new streetcars/LRT and busses, why not invest in a new look/logo as well? Hire a Toronto-based brand-advert firm and let them make the TTC look pretty again.
Gloria / January 19, 2013 at 11:49 am
Yes, the "feminine" uniforms didn't even let women wear trousers in the winter if they wanted to.
Notahipster replying to a comment from alex / January 19, 2013 at 01:10 pm
welcome to customer service, it happens everywhere. But still you have to be polite to people it is what you are being paid for. Any other customer service job would fire you.
Robert replying to a comment from Notahipster / January 19, 2013 at 01:24 pm
Really? were is that? Seems what passes for good customer service is a Walmart style greeting, nothing of substance.
Jacob / January 19, 2013 at 01:55 pm
Keep the hideous maroon. I like it.


No one else wears that colour, so you can see the driver coming when you're waiting for him to get back on the bus or subway to drive.
stopitman / January 19, 2013 at 01:56 pm
I had a bus driver once on the Runnymede route (he must've filled in for the usualy guy that morning) who had the full TTC uniform on - tie, cap, ironed shirt and pants, and did the announcements instead of the recording (including telling us on arrival at the subway station the time, to have a good day, and thanks for riding).

The current uniform does look pretty decent, but part of the problem is that it's an entirely mobile workforce so it's hard for the slackers to get caught for it. Most of the drivers I've seen are pretty well dressed, but there are always slobs out there.
v79 / January 19, 2013 at 02:08 pm
There's no need to have a militaristic look (even the current inspectors hats look uncomfortable and ridiculous. These are transit workers, not five star generals), but an upgrade of some sort is definitely in order. The biggest problem is there doesn't seem to be any continuity between the uniforms or their brand in general, it's just a hodge-podge of different styles, from different eras. Some of the pants and jackets (with the corduroy accents) look like they came straight from a Value Village rack in the 70's. It also looks odd that they've kept the maroon uniforms, yet the logo and streetcars and buses now use bright red. Pick one and stick to it.
W. K. Lis / January 19, 2013 at 02:41 pm
They do NOT replace the uniforms all at once. New uniforms replace the worn out old uniforms, when only when one needs it due to age and condition.
avas / January 19, 2013 at 07:50 pm
those old uniforms look like crap, thank god they dont dress like that anymore
avas replying to a comment from stopitman / January 19, 2013 at 07:51 pm
Ive been on his bus before , I wish more drivers were like him
rick mcginnis / January 19, 2013 at 11:25 pm
I think the '70s photo tells you everything you need to know about what happened to the world during that decade. Call that a uniform and don't be surprised when adults start dressing like kids in middle school.
Brendan / January 20, 2013 at 12:20 am
these are some nazi looking ass joints
Jimmy / January 20, 2013 at 12:23 am
To update the TTC's image, the new uniform should include maroon coloured skinny jeans for both male and female employees.
the lemur / January 20, 2013 at 12:27 am
Some of the old ones look a little too militaristic for today, but the general principle is: give the staff a uniform they can respect and they will act respectfully and be respected by passengers. If Byford is thinking of something like the blue TfL uniforms, bring it on.
Josh / January 20, 2013 at 09:22 am
People don't have respect for uniforms anymore - some kids today aren't gonna care what uniform the driver has on, they still going to be loud, disrespectful, spitting, garbabe
Torono / January 21, 2013 at 05:19 pm
Lesson of the day, no matter how hard you try to conform people, they never will. These uniforms are an example of how uniforms create a sense of respect, pride. Even the women dressed up everyday, did their hair , looked feminine etc. If you have respect for your job, are happy, generally your appearance may reflect that. It's the culture that stinks, people are working for money, for a paycheck, not for living, that's the difference, and that's why there's no respect and nobody cares.
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