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The Third Generation: The Western Flyer Rebuilds (1968-1992)

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Text by James Bow.

In 1966, the TTC reconsidered its position regarding trolley bus service in Toronto. The opening of the Bloor-Danforth subway realigned a number of surface routes throughout the city, and the second generation of trolley buses was nearing the end of their lifespans, so such a review was in order. After some thought, the TTC decided that the trolley buses still had a major part to play in the surface network. Although a number of the trolley buses' components were aging, other components had a lot of life left in them, including the CGE traction motors and the controls. As there were no North American producers of trolley buses, and the cost of shipping new buses from Europe was prohibitive, the TTC considered rebuilding.


On May 2, 1967, two old vehicles were shipped from the system; 9020 to Winnipeg's Western Flyer Coach and 9144 to Robin-Nodwell in England. Only Western Flyer Coach finished the rebuilding (coach 9144 never returned and was scrapped in England in 1969, after Robin-Nodwell's contract was taken over by Flxible and then aborted). 9020 returned to Hillcrest on July 22, 1968. The bus was the first of the E-700A model (T8 class) of trolley buses.

The TTC spent a year running 9020 over 27,500 miles over four routes to fully test the prototype. It was then returned to Western Flyer for further modifications and returned, renumbered 9200, on August 6, 1970. Based on these tests, the TTC mapped out the rebuilding program for the rest of the fleet. It was decided that Western Flyer would produce a new chassis and body, with wheels, brakes, doors and suspension and Hillcrest would rebuild and reinstall the rest. The rebuilding program began in earnest on August 11, 1970, with Western Flyer receiving the first coach, and continued until April 26, 1972. The rebuilds were designed primarily for the Canadian Car and Foundry vehicles. For the 23 non-standard Marmon-Herringtons, components were salvaged from 23 vehicles from abandoned trolley bus fleets in Halifax and Cornwall (Cornwall supplied coach numbers 100-104, 106-108, 110-113 plus a 13th set of components while Halifax supplied coaches 204-05, 209, 217, 227, 246, 251, 263, 264 and 272 -- 13 coaches or components from Cornwall and 10 from Halifax). The equipment from the Robin-Nodwell coach unexpectedly returned to the TTC in November 1970.

The TTC was able to rebuild 152 trolley buses and put them back on the streets for another twenty years. 9213 was leased to Western Flyer for demonstration purposes on March 9, 1971. The vehicle then went on a North American tour, with stops planned for Milwaukee, Philadelphia (cancelled), Chicago, Dallas, Edmonton, Calgary and Hamilton. 9213 was returned on April 10 and was back in service on April 26.

Last Days

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and by the early 1990s, the E700As were beginning to show their age. The TTC's ambivalence towards its trolley buses in the late 1980s revealed itself in the form of deferred maintenance, both to the vehicles and to the infrastructure. In the final years, reliability and customer service were harmed by this state of affairs. The TTC supplemented service using vehicles leased from Edmonton while the rebuilds were progressively retired, but this was too little, too late. Eventually, the decision came in late 1991 to cease trolley bus operation altogether. When the iron-clad lease on the Edmonton vehicles forced the TTC to reopen operation on the Annette and Bay routes, only the Edmonton rebuilds were fit to provide service. The other vehicles were placed into dead storage, and were either donated to museums, or sold for scrap.

The last Western Flyer trolley coach in revenue service was 9247, operated on the 6 Bay route and pulling into Lansdowne Garage at 2:52 a.m. on Sunday, January 19, 1992.

Principal Specifications

  • Fleet Class: T8
  • Fleet Numbers: 9200-9351
  • Builder: Western Flyer Coach
  • Model: E-700A
  • Year Built (Leased): 1968-72 (rebuilt)
  • Length: 41' 3" (12.57 m)
  • Width: 8' 6" (2.59 m)
  • Height: 9' 11.25" (3.03 m)
  • Wheelbase: 23' 8.75" (7.23 m)
  • Seating: 40
  • Weights -- Normal (W1): 19840 lb (9000 kg)
  • Weights -- Normal (Service) (W4): 32440 lb (14715 kg) (83)
  • Weights -- Normal (Crush) (W5): 35890 lb (16280 kg) (106)

Western Flyer Image Archive


  • Filey, Mike, The TTC Story: The First Seventy-Five Years, Dundurn Press, Toronto (Ontario) 1996.
  • Scrimgeour, Pat and Scott Haskill., 'Toronto Trolley Coaches Stored', Rail and Transit, January 1992, p3-4, The Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (Ontario).
  • Toronto Transit Commission, Trolley Coach CC&F and Flyer Coaches, The Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto (Ontario), January 1987.

Special thanks to Ray Corley for his corrections to this web page

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