old toronto streetcars

This is why Toronto's old streetcars were so much cooler than the new ones

Toronto has a very long history of streetcars dating all the way back to the 1860s, but since the ultra-modern Bombardier versions hit the tracks in 2016, it's hard to forget their special predecessors.

The Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV) travelled the city streets from the late 1970s up until the late 2010s, giving us around 40 years of somewhat outdated service.

These cars no longer operate, since the Toronto Transit Commission replaced them with the Flexity Outlook cars, first introduced in 2014.

But for me and many others in the city, there's something special about the old LRVs that our hearts still hold on to.

Opening the windows

Right off the bat, does anyone else miss being able to open up the windows on the old cars, thus accessing a sweet and sticky city breeze?

Of course, it's hard to beat the air conditioning that the new cars have, but I still miss sticking my head out the window like a dog.

Magical doors

And who could forget the magic of the old streetcars when placing your feet on the steps would cause the doors to swing open?

I will admit sometimes it was really annoying watching tourists or new commuters not understand this feature and having to wait until they realized what was happening so that the streetcar could get going again.

Rolling destination signs

The destination signs fixed to the front of the cars at the top, with back-lit roller boards were also very cool and gave the cars a very nostalgic feel.

Domee Shi’s Turning Red, the only Pixar movie to take place in Toronto, also featured many cameos of the older streetcar models and the movie's promotion saw one old car brought out of retirement.

Lounge seating

But perhaps the best part of the CLRVs were the seats in the very back, or as I liked to call them, the lounge.

Three seats at the very back row with two seats flanking the left and right created an intimate and almost separate environment from the rest of the car and its commuters.

Sitting in these seats made you feel like the "cool kids" of the streetcar and also allowed you to face others while engaging in the day's gossip.

Now of course, since these cars were used for decades, they were basically falling apart by the time they were replaced - and were known to break down in the winter months.

Also there is no denying that if you use any type of assistive walking device or a wheelchair, these streetcars were 100 per cent not accessible and were definitely a hindrance. So depending on who you ask, the older models may not have been loved by everyone.

The city's new models feature accessibility entrances and ramps while the insides have no steps.

They are also nearly double the length of the older models, accommodating more commuters and giving them more room to sit, stand and travel across our city.

While it's been a few years since the CLRVs have left our lives completely, there is still a teeny-tiny part inside of me that wishes I could travel on them one more time.

Lead photo by

Gogakki


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