Toronto Transit After Hours

This remarkable video above was uploaded to YouTube by the user OrionVIII. In it, he shows the arrival of various TTC work trains, arriving back at Davisville Yard just before the start of the service day on November 10, 2010. The movie was shot atop the Belt Line Bridge that crosses over the yard.

As I am a transit geek, of course I found this video interesting. It’s always a rare treat to see the equipment that the public can’t use, and most people can’t see, unless they’re riding the subway system late at night. I have a vague memory, way back when I was younger than eight, of travelling with my parents late at night from Mississauga, by TTC. We left the Bloor-Danforth subway at St. George and were heading up the steps either to transfer to a Unviersity subway train or, if this memory was from before the days the Spadina subway opened, to the bus terminal to catch an Avenue Road bus, which filled in for the University trains before 1978 when all Yonge trains cut back at Union on Sundays or after 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

In this memory, there was this most odd train parked at the University subway platform. Its doors were wider and the windows, unlike every other subway train I knew at the time, was circular. Breaking away from my parents, I rushed in and was surprised that the car had no seats, and was the only car in the train. My parents called me out, and I left before getting into any really serious trouble.

Turns out the car was “Tokyo Rose”, or RT-10 as it was officially known — the TTC’s garbage train, and I’d been fascinated by its existence ever since. I caught rare glimpses as service trains passed Davisville yard, and once when the car was out in the afternoon rush hour for some reason (at Wellesley station. It didn’t stop). It was old, though: built in 1967. By the time I’d found myself online and was partnering with Aaron Adel to build Transit Toronto, the car had been retired, replaced by a new garbage train based on Gloucester subway cars that, ironically, had been serving the system since the 1950s. Aaron put together a movie about this train, and it became one of the first major projects of the Transit Toronto website.

The garbage train service was eliminated by the TTC after a disastrous fire. A number of the work trains today use retired service vehicles, or specially built equipment that look a lot more utilitarian than Tokyo Rose did. But while they might not have the mystique of the service equipment had in my childhood, OrionVIII shows that they remain a fascinating, hardly seen part of keeping this major civic infrastructure operating.

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