(September 5, 1976 - January 18, 1992; September 4, 1992 - July 16, 1993)
Text by James Bow.
In 1973, an oil embargo by OPEC drove up the price of gasoline to astonishing levels. It was the first shock that western nations received as a result of their oil dependency. With the majority of the TTC’s fleet now consisting of diesel buses, the commission began to rue earlier decisions to abandon most of its streetcar network.
To deal with the high cost of fuel, the TTC commissioned a report on which bus routes could be converted to electric operation. A number of suggestions came forward, including most of the diesel bus routes operating within downtown Toronto.
Of all the proposals to convert diesel buses to electric operation, Bay was the only suggestion to bear fruit. After the initial proposals were logged, the City of Toronto and the TTC entered in deeper study of the Bay project. The bus route was quite busy, after having been converted from streetcar in 1963. With the office towers south of Queen Street providing an urban canyon collecting exhaust fumes, the line was ideal for conversion.
It is interesting to note that, initially at least, the idea of converting the line back to streetcar operation was considered as seriously as trolley bus operation. However, as the TTC had surplus infrastructure and equipment available from the 97 YONGE route, which had been converted to diesel operation in 1973 with the extension of the Yonge subway to York Mills, it made most sense to apply that material to Bay. Work began in 1975, and the route opened for service in 1976.
Operating from an on-street loop via Davenport, Dupont and Bedford, to Queens Quay and Jarvis (looping via Freeland, Lakeshore and Jarvis) via Davenport Road, Bay Street and Queens Quay, 6 Bay became the busiest trolley bus route on the system, with 30 vehicles providing 1-2 minute service.
There were several short-turn loops along the route, including on street loops at Davenport, via Yorkville and Yonge (listed as Bloor), Edward via Elm and Elizabeth (listed as Dundas) and Wellington via Front and Yonge (listed as Front). The route had five signed branches in addition to the main route, including 6A (Bloor-Jarvis), 6B (Bloor-Front), 6C (Front-Jarvis), 6D (Dundas-Jarvis) and 6E (Dupont-Dundas). Of these branches, only 6A, 6B and 6E saw irregular additional rush-hour service. 6C did operate for an extended period during the construction of the Harbourfront LRT, but it operated as a diesel bus shuttle, as Bay Street was closed off, and no trolley wires were strung along the diversion route.
In the late 1980s, the TTC experimented with transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Bay Street, which significantly improved service for the trolley buses.
Bay led something of a charmed existence, receiving more reprieves from conversion back to diesel operation than any other trolley bus route. In the late 1980s, the City of Toronto pursued a proposal that would have made Yonge Street and Bay Street complementary one-way streets, thus making trolley bus operation impossible. It was only after a court injunction, sought by local merchants a week before August 6, 1988, when the one-way operation was to come into effect, that trolley bus operation was able to continue.
Bay then fell to diesel buses on January 18, 1992, along with the rest of the trolley bus network. It regained the trolley buses that September when the TTC found it could not back out of its lease of trolley buses from Edmonton. Operation continued for another year using the leased vehicles, until the lease ran out and the route was reconverted back to diesels. Diesel buses have been operating on the line ever since.
There have been few changes to the route since 1993, although service has been reduced. Remnants of the service remained in the form of poles around the Front Loop and the Bloor Loop (along Yorkville Avenue), but these have gradually been removed.
6 Bay Trolley Bus Image Archive
- Filey, Mike, The TTC Story: The First Seventy-Five Years, Dundurn Press, Toronto (Ontario) 1996.