Vintage TTC streetcar returns to the road for 80th anniversary

A storied piece of Toronto's transit history rolled through downtown on Sunday.

PCC model streetcars, icons of North American transit, 1st entered service in Toronto in 1938

Vintage PCC streetcar #4549 entered service in Toronto in 1951. (John Grierson/CBC)

A storied piece of Toronto's transit history rolled through downtown on Sunday.

For four hours in the morning, a vintage model streetcar that shuttled passengers throughout the city for nearly six decades briefly returned to the Queen Street track.

The rare return to service was meant to mark 80 years since the famous Presidents' Conference Committee model streetcars started running in Toronto. 

The PCC streetcars first began operating in the city on Sept. 23, 1938. Designed and built in the U.S. earlier that decade, the PCC design has become an iconic part of transit history throughout North America. 

TTC driver Jesse Goulah said the vintage streetcar requires a little 'finessing' from the driver. (John Grierson/CBC)

The specific car that the TTC made available on Sunday was completed and delivered to the city in 1951, and was the last PCC streetcar ever ordered by the transit service.

Jesse Goulah, a veteran transit operator with 11 years experience at the TTC, welcomed passengers as they boarded at stops between Church Street and Bathurst Street. 

"These little streetcars are pretty fantastic. Nice to drive, comfortable, pretty quick. I like the vintage feel of it," Goulah said.

"The new ones are nice in that they're a little easier to operate. These ones take a little bit of finessing."

Passenger Oliver Setka said he wanted to ride the PCC even though he didn't have a specific destination.

A view from inside one of two PCC model streetcars owned by the TTC. (John Grierson/CBC)

"I love these. It's history. It reminds us of the way things were," he told CBC Toronto. 

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross posted on social media that the car used today is one of two PCC model streetcars currently in the TTC's possession. 

At its peak, the PCC fleet in North America numbered 740. The cars remained in service in Toronto until 1995.