Today marks the 62nd year since the last streetcar ride in Vancouver! We’re definitely a bus region nowadays whether they be conventional diesel, hybrids or trolleybuses, but it wasn’t always that way.
Metro Vancouver used to have interurban rail and urban streetcars connecting and moving the Lower Mainland until April 24, 1955 when we said goodbye to Vancouver streetcars with a fitting send-off at the PNE.
To know where you are, is to know where you’ve been. So, let’s take a quick look at the major milestones that transitioned our region from rails to rubber!
1889 – Laying Vancouver’s streetcar rails
1890 – First electric streetcar in Vancouver
First streetcars quick facts!
- 4 wheeled
- open sides and front
- Bench seating
- Ran at 6 m.p.h
- Originally made to be horse-drawn
1. Down Westminster Avenue (now Main St) from 1st Ave to Powell.
2. Along Powell and Cordova from Campbell Ave to Granville St.
1891 – Interurban tram line opens connecting New Westminster and Vancouver
1905 – Construction of North Vancouver tracks
1922 – Rebuilding of doors on streetcars when the rule-of-the-road switch from left to right.
1923 – First BCER bus on Grandview Highway route
1945 to 1955 – Streetcar rails removed
1946 – Streetcars start to be replaced with buses
April 22, 1955, 3:30 am – The last official revenue streetcar went out of service
April 22, 1955 – Last streetcar route replaced with trolley bus
April 24, 1955 – Last streetcar (free!) ride and No. 53 display at the PNE
1958 – The end of interurban service
“If the next 65 years are anything like the last, there will be lots to keep us busy – whether it’s streetcars or helicopters!”
– The Buzzer, April 20, 1955
Although the vehicles have changed, the impact of public transit and transportation continue to mould our present and future!
Thanks for coming along for the ride down the tracks of our transit history.
Have a hankering to see a streetcar today? Just head to the Old Spaghetti Factory in Gastown to see the No. 53 or cruise by East Broadway at the Kingsway and….. tada a lovely little streetcar replica!
You can also view the special Rails to Rubber 1955 edition of the Buzzer and read more about our streetcar past here.
Author: Adrienne Coling