The Streamliner Project: Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway

The Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo in 1938.

The Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo in 1938.

One of the most interesting things about railways were their names. While some were named after their principal service area (Michigan Central, Canadian National, etc.), most were named after the goals of their charter. Some, like the Baltimore & Ohio, fulfilled those goals – Baltimore to the Ohio River. Others, like the Algoma Central & Hudson Bay, had to scale back when they realized their goals wouldn’t be achieved. The Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo was one such railroad, though it never changed its name. Running between Waterford and Welland via Brantford and Hamilton in southern Ontario, the line connected with the New York Central (a part owner) at both ends, and with the CPR (another part owner and now complete owner of what’s left) in Hamilton. Named passenger trains included a section of The Ontarian between Toronto and New York. Today, a short section is still used by GO Transit for trains entering into the lovely Art Deco station in Hamilton.

Interestingly, trains between Toronto and Hamilton were operated by the CPR using trackage rights on Canadian National.

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The Streamliner Project: Eureka!

In a previous post I told you about the project I’m working on – The Streamliner Project. But, what I didn’t tell you about was the amount of work that goes into preparing the data. Basically, it follows the following procedure:

  1. Plot the stations, crossing and junctions on Google Earth using distances from the Official Guide to the Railways.
  2. Convert that string of Placemarks into a path using GE-Path.
  3. Publish a map using Google Earth for all services offered by that railway.
  4. Research history of that particular railway company and blog about it.

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The Streamliner Project: Dominion Atlantic Railway

The Dominion Atlantic in 1938.

The Dominion Atlantic in 1938.

While the CPR proper didn’t enter Nova Scotia, they did have a presence by leasing the ‘”Land of the Evangeline” Route’ whose mainline ran from Yarmouth to Windsor Junction and on to Halifax via trackage rights over the CNR. At Digby, passengers could transfer to steamers for Saint John, and at Yarmouth for Boston. Named passenger trains included the Flying Bluenose, though it was named after a nickname for Nova Scotians rather than for the famous schooner. This train became the Evangeline, which continued into the VIA Rail era before all passenger service ended in 1990. The name Evangeline comes from the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem “Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie”. Interestingly, in addition to writing “Paul Revere’s Ride”, he also wrote “The Song of Hiawatha” which was the inspiration for the name of a number of Milwaukee Road trains. Of personal interest to me, Rose Fortune – considered to be the first female police officer in Canada – settled in Annapolis Royal during the American Revolution after escaping slavery in Virginia with her family. Her descendant, Daurene Lewis, CM, became the first black female mayor in Canada.

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The Streamliner Project

Until the Second World War, rail was the only real way to travel from city to city safely, quickly and in style. Between Chicago and Minneapolis, for example, The Chicago & Northwestern, Burlington Route and Milwaukee Road all competed for passengers with famous streamlined trains like the “400″, “Zephyr” and “Hiawatha”, each one trying to out-do the other in travel times and luxury. Many factors contributed to the decline in rail travel, but the simple explanation is that the car and the airplane stole passengers until the railways could no longer justify running money-losing passenger trains. In Canada and the United States, most passenger rail services were turned over to the federal government or to local transit agencies, leaving a skeleton network of the most profitable and most politically important services. Continue reading

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Bad Information = Complaints

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One of the reasons why I started this blog was because society is very quick to declare #epicfail without offering any suggestions on how to improve transit. So, when I saw this terrible sign replacing a handwritten one inside Hamilton GO Centre next to the schedules, I felt that the responsible thing to do would be to help improve it. So, here we go:

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Stintz will discuss zone-based TTC fares – once Presto pay card in place – The Globe and Mail

I consider Steve Munro a great thinker – despite the fact that he called me a “trained seal” and never really apologized for it – so, when he was quoted in a Globe article as saying that a time-limited transfer was a better option than fare-by-distance I must admit that I agree – sort of. Continue reading

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Halton politicians to Metrolinx: Beef up our transit if you want us to pay – Toronto Star

As Metrolinx prepares to begin a large-scale public consultation effort to find supportable ways to pay for transit expansion across the region, officials in Halton are telling the provincial agency that they should expand transit service before asking citizens to pay for more.

[Note: The Toronto Star tends to re-use URLs for related stories as the event unfolds. At the time if writing, the URL led to the story I am discussing.]

Looking at Halton’s argument for a moment, I must point out that it is one that I hear quite often and feel very frustrated every time I hear it. We all know why improvements have been slow to arrive (I’ll give you a clue – it’s lack of money), so making this argument is like saying “we won’t give you money until someone else gives you money.” At best, that makes it a stall tactic to force someone else to fund transit. Since this hasn’t worked in the last 20 years, I do not see how it will be effective for more than the odd one-off project. At worst, though, it is a preemptive “no” to the notion of paying for a better transportation system. However, “no” comes with consequences which are far worse than saying “yes”.

Halton has a lot to be angry about, as does Peel, Toronto, Durham, York, Hamilton and the surrounding regions and counties. And, they should have an opportunity to make a case as to why their projects deserve priority. But, when people in my life disappoint me I’ve found that pushing forward and retaining 100% of the spoils is much more satisfying than reliving the disappointment over and over again.

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Where two lines meet

Almost as soon as I published my post about the plans for rapid transit along Broadway in Vancouver, city staff made a presentation to council stating their position that an underground Skytrain line is the only solution that will meet the demand. I share this position, but I feel that west of Arbutus Street – where the first phase of the subway would end – the development patterns and ridership levels change such that a subway is not the only technology which can handle the ridership. Since construction would likely stop there anyway, we have to ask if the change of mode from subway to something else should be permanent or temporary.

In my opinion, the following criteria should be used to decide if a permanent change of mode is a wise decision: Continue reading

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TTC signs up for Presto fare card – Toronto Star

Today, after officially signing the master agreement for the new LRT lines to be built across the city, the TTC signed the master agreement committing themselves to rolling out the PRESTO fare card across the system. The new streetcars will have the devices activated once they become operational in late 2013 or 2014, followed by most of the subway and bus routes serving the Pan Am Games venues by 2015, followed by the remainder of the system after that. In addition, riders will have the option of using a credit or debit card instead of a green PRESTO card. Continue reading

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Rapid-transit line along Broadway corridor favoured by many still a ways away – Globe and Mail

Earlier this month, the City of Vancouver passed their long-term transportation vision, Transportation 2040, which aims to have two thirds of all trips within the city to be made by foot, by bicycle or by transit. The city has made excellent progress towards this goal, as the 50% modal share they expected to hit in 2021 has already been reached today. But, in order to reach the 66% goal, the city will need more rapid transit lines. Given that transit is a regional responsibility, is there a way to serve Vancouver’s local needs and TransLink’s regional needs in one shot? Continue reading

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