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Hamilton Street Railway

Hamilton Street Railway
New Flyer C40LF #510213 on the 5C route in downtown Hamilton.
Founded 1874
Headquarters 2200 Upper James St.
Locale Hamilton, Ontario
Service area Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Dundas, Ancaster and Burlington.
Service type Public Transit
Routes 34 + 2 seasonal
Fleet 190 buses[1]
Fuel type Diesel, CNG, Diesel-electric
Operator City of Hamilton

The Hamilton Street Railway Company (HSR) is the Transit Division of the City of Hamilton, Public Works Department [2] in Ontario, Canada. The name is a legacy of the days when the majority of public transit vehicles were streetcars; the present-day Hamilton Street Railway is in fact a bus operator. The HSR transports about 21 million passengers a year.[1]


  • History 1
    • Other streetcar systems 1.1
  • Services 2
    • Bus routes 2.1
    • Route histories 2.2
      • Streetcar routes 2.2.1
      • Trolleybus routes 2.2.2
    • Trans-Cab 2.3
    • Accessible transportation 2.4
    • Rapid Transit 2.5
  • Facilities 3
    • Barns/garages 3.1
    • Loops 3.2
  • Terminals and connections 4
    • Other terminals and loops 4.1
  • Fares 5
  • Gallery 6
  • Vehicles 7
    • Rail 7.1
      • Horsecars 7.1.1
      • Streetcars 7.1.2
    • Rubber Tire 7.2
      • Buses 7.2.1
      • Trolleybuses 7.2.2
  • Staff 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


A Hamilton Radial Electric Railway vehicle crosses the Hamilton Harbour swing bridge in 1907.

From 1873 to 1889, the HSR was owned by Lyman Moore and operated as a private business. In 1889 HSR was sold to Hamilton Cataract Interests, later known as Dominion Power and Transmission Company. The HSR was later acquired by Ontario Hydro.

Provincial ownership ended in 1946 when HSR was bought by Canada Coach Lines. CCL was purchased by the city of Hamilton in 1960. Hamilton-Wentworth Region began ownership of CCL and HSR in 1977.

Other streetcar systems

Hamilton & Dundas Street Railway 1873-1923
Hamilton, Grimsby & Beamsville Electric Railway 1891-1931
Hamilton Radial Electric Railway 1893-1925
Brantford & Hamilton Electric Railway 1896-1931
Hamilton Terminal Company 1907-1930s


Bus routes

No. Name Inner Terminal Outer Terminal Notes
1 King Hamilton GO Centre Eastgate Square Sunday service extends to Fiesta Mall.
1A King University Plaza Terminal Eastgate Square Weekday service only.
2 Barton Hamilton GO Centre Bell Manor Loop
3 Cannon Hamilton GO Centre Reid & Dunsmure
4 Bayfront Downtown Mt. Albion Loop Limtied Weekday & Saturday trips service Ferrie Ave
Dundas - Governors
King & Jones Pirie & Governors (Dundas) Route 5 runs eastbound, Route 52 runs westbound. 7-Day Service to Governors began in 2014. Late Evening Service to Stoney Creek began in 2014
Greenhill & Cochrane West Hamilton Loop
or The Meadowlands (Ancaster)
Route 5A runs eastbound, Route 5C runs westbound. Alternating trips to West Hamilton Loop or The Meadowlands. Full day service to The Meadowlands on weekends began Sept. 2, 2012.[3]
Dundas - Head Street
Quigley & Greenhill Head Street Loop (Dundas) Route 5E runs eastbound, Route 52 runs westbound. Buses no longer operate on Main/King Street East. 5B University Plaza route discontinued
6 Aberdeen Downtown Princess Point Loop
7 Locke Downtown Hillcrest Loop
8 York Downtown Lamoreaux & Strathcona Weekday Rush Hours trips operate via Head Street
9 Rock Gardens Downtown Holy Sepulchre Cemetery Service operates on Sundays and holidays from May through November. Travels to Burlington.
10 B-Line Express Eastgate Square University Plaza Weekday express service. 10A to McMaster extended to University Plaza
11 Parkdale Valley Park Loop Burlington Bus Terminal Only daily route that travels to Burlington. Does not serve Downtown. Weekday Trips service Canada Centre for Inland Waters
12 Wentworth Wentworth & Mars Victoria & King Counterclockwise loop. Route only operates on weekdays, with no midday service.
16 Ancaster The Meadowlands Wilson & Garner No Sunday service. Does not serve Downtown. Separate AM & PM Routing. Interlined with 43 Stone Church
18 Waterdown Waterdown & Parkside Aldershot GO Station Weekday peak hour service only. Does not serve Downtown. *Limited Drop-Off Only trips travel to Downtown Hamilton via Plains Road & York Blvd
20 A-Line Express Hamilton Waterfront (Pier 8) Hamilton International Airport Weekday peak hour express service. Services Mohawk College & Mountain Transit Centre Park & Ride. Southbound buses service Macnab Terminal
21 Upper Kenilworth Downtown Mountain Brow Loop (Heritage Greene Shopping Centre(as of Sept. 6, 2015))[4]
22 Upper Ottawa Downtown Upper Ottawa & Rymal Limited trips service Anchor & Bigwin
23 Upper Gage Downtown Upper Gage & Rymal
24 Upper Sherman Downtown Upper Gage & Rymal Routing via St Jean de Brebeuf School cancelled 2014.
25 Upper Wentworth Downtown Lime Ridge Mall
26 Upper Wellington Downtown via Rymal Lime Ridge Mall via Rymal
27 Upper James Downtown Mountain Transit Centre Park & Ride
33 Sanatorium Downtown Scenic & Lavander Loop Routing through Chedoke Arena cancelled 2014
34 Upper Paradise Downtown Glancaster Loop No Sunday service.
34A Upper Paradise Downtown Upper Horning Loop
35 College Downtown St. Elizabeth Village Loop Alternating routing via Garth and via Upper James
41 Mohawk The Meadowlands Gage & Industrial Does not serve Downtown.Alternating Routing via Ottawa & Kenilworth. Services Lime Ridge Mall
41A Mohawk Chedoke Hospital Gage & Industrial Does not serve Downtown. Alternating Routing via Ottawa & Kenilworth. Services Lime Ridge Mall
43 Stone Church Saltfleet Secondary School (Highland & Aubrey) The Meadowlands 7-day a week service from 6AM-Midnight begins Aug. 31, 2014.[5] Does not serve Downtown. Services Lime Ridge Mall Interlined with 16 Ancaster (Weekdays & Saturdays Only)
44 Rymal Eastgate Square Ancaster Business Park/Glancaster Loop (Weekends) 7-day a week service from 6AM-Midnight begins Aug. 31, 2014.[6] Does not serve Downtown.
51 University Hamilton GO Centre via McMaster University West Hamilton Loop via McMaster University No Sunday or summer service. Service Monday-Saturday extended to 2:30am
52A Dundas Local York & Watson's Loop Pleasant & Orchard Weekday peak hour service only. Does not serve Downtown.
55 Stoney Creek Central Eastgate Square Hwy 8 & Jones Via Queenston & Barton. Does not serve Downtown.
55A Stoney Creek Central Eastgate Square Levi Loop Does not serve Downtown.
56 Centennial Eastgate Square Lakeland Loop Service to Confederation Plaza(Walmart Supercentre) w/Summer extension to Confederation Park. Does not serve Downtown.
58 Stoney Creek Local Eastgate Square Hwy 8 & Jones Via Centennial & King. Does not serve Downtown.
99 Waterfront Shuttle Downtown Pier 8 Seven-day summer-only service.

Route histories

In the early 1990s the HSR eliminated many routes by expanding current routes. The following is a list of replaced and withdrawn routes:

Streetcar routes

Streetcars of the Hamilton Street Railway rode a funicular across the Niagara Escarpment.

The HSR operated horsecars from 1874 to 1892 and electric streetcars from 1892 to 1951. Trolleybuses replaced streetcars in Hamilton in 1951.

Trolleybus routes


were used by the HSR from 1951 to 1992 along the following routes:


Introduced in 1998 as a two-year pilot project, Trans-Cab is a shared-ride taxi service between HSR and specific local taxi providers, currently offered in portions of Glanbrook and Stoney Creek.

Accessible transportation

Accessible Transportation Services (ATS) is the section that administers a variety of accessible services on behalf of the City

  • Accessible low-floor (ALF) buses provide level entry and exit to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. It is anticipated that the entire HSR fleet will be accessible by 2009.
  • Disabled and Aged Regional Transportation System (DARTS) is a non profit charitable organization that is the paratransit service provider.
  • Taxi Scrip program provides discounted taxi coupons for ATS registered persons who are unable to access regular transit buses.

Rapid Transit

In 1981, during Bill Davis's Progressive Conservative administration, the Province of Ontario offered to finance the construction of a light rail line in Hamilton, from Lloyd D. Jackson Square to the Lime Ridge Mall.[7] The line would have used the same technology as the Scarborough Rapid Transit. The plans triggered a lot grass-roots opposition, and Hamilton-Wentworth Council turned the proposal down. The plan called for an elevated track -- one of the element that triggered opposition. Residents being concerned commuters would be invading their privacy, by looking down on their back-yards and in their second floor windows.

When the CBC News compared the rejected 1981 plan with the 21st Century rapid transit plan they quoted the individual who had been the planning and development manager for Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Government, Doug Lychak, who pointed out that Vancouver's introduction of the same elevated light rail technology, just four years later is widely acknowledged to have been very successful.[7]

The 1980s light rail plans were to use the UTDC ICTS technology, but the project was scrapped and no lines were created for the HSR.

Hamilton is considering the use of LRT in the city,[8] and is working with Metrolinx on a plan to get an LRT with 15 years after plans are approved.

The planned BLAST network routes may include:[9]

No vehicles have been chosen, but it may be similar to the Flexity Freedom to be used in Ion rapid transit and Eglinton Crosstown LRT.



  • 1875 first horsebarn opens
  • 1887 second horsebarn opens
  • 1889 Sanford Avenue carhouse opens
  • 1927 - 1990 Wentworth Street North carbarn/garage opens (machine shops, etc.)
  • 1984-1996;1998 to present Mountain Regional Transit Centre on Upper James Street
  • 1990 - 1998 Wentworth Street Transit Centre


Location Type Notes
Barton & Bell Manor Loop bus
CNIB/Main West Loop bus
Dundurn Loop bus Locke Route; technically terminus for three-point-turn
Glancaster Road Loop bus
Guise Loop streetcar
Kenilworth & Barton trolleybus short turn loop
Kenilworth & Cannon trolleybus short turn loop
King & James turntable streetcar
Lakeland Loop bus
Levi Loop bus
Main & London trolleybus King route short turn loop
Princess Point Loop bus
Queenston Loop bus no longer used; replaced with Fiesta Mall)
Scenic & Lavender Loop bus
Strathearne Loop trolleybus Strathearne & Roxborough Ave; no longer used
Titan Loop bus
Valley Park Loop bus
West Hamilton Loop bus
Westdale Loop streetcar

Terminals and connections

HSR routes from downtown to the Mountain (20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 33, and 35) currently use MacNab Transit Terminal, while several lower city routes (4, 6, 7, 8 and 9) have an on-street terminal layover at the intersection of Main and James Streets. 34 has a layover location on King at James.

HSR connects with GO Transit at Hamilton GO Centre, which serves as the terminus for four HSR routes (1, 2, 3, and 51). The station, located at 36 Hunter Street East, a few blocks south of King and James, is the terminus of the GO's Lakeshore West railway line and Express Highway 407 and Queen Elizabeth Way GO Buses. It is also the main Greyhound Lines bus stop (mainly serving London, Ontario and those connections) in Hamilton. Canada Coach Lines, once owned by HSR, is now served by Coach Canada, formerly Trentway-Wagar, and operates routes between Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, and Niagara. It is also the former Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway (TH&B) passenger station, and there is a small museum above the public concourse. HSR routes 2 and 4 also connect with GO at Barton Street & Nash Road in East Hamilton, where a GO bus travels between there and the Burlington GO Station.

At the Mountain Transit Centre transfer point (served by route 27) and a contract with Blue Line Taxi, the HSR also connects with other areas in the northwest portion of the former Glanbrook Township.

In addition, the HSR is connected with Burlington Transit, as one route (11 Parkdale) travels into Burlington via Burlington Beach, 18 Waterdown connects with BT at Aldershot GO Station, and BT Route 1 enters downtown Hamilton from Plains Road West. Also '9 Rock Gardens' travels into Burlington going into the Royal Botanical Gardens during the summer months.

Other terminals and loops

Location Routes
Bell Manor Loop 2, 55A
Eastgate Transit Terminal 1, 10, 44, 55/55A, 56, 58
Glancaster Loop 34, Redeemer University College Shuttle (limited service)
Lime Ridge Transit Terminal 25, 26, 41/41A, 43, Mohawk East Extra Shuttle
McMaster University 1A, 10A, 5A/5C, 51 run through or terminate at the University
5B/5E, 10, 52 pass nearby on Main Street
GO Transit bus service to & from Burlington GO Station
Meadowlands 5A/5C, 16, 41, 43, Redeemer University College Shuttle (limited service)
Upper Horning Loop 34A
West Hamilton Loop 5C, 51


Fare Class Single fare Monthly pass Annual pass
(Age group) Cash Ticket PRESTO Paper PRESTO Paper
Adult $2.75 $2.15 $2.15 $94.60 $94.60 n/a
Student (13 to 19) $2.75 $1.80 $1.80 $79.20 $79.20 n/a
Senior (65 to 79) $2.75 n/a $1.80 n/a $23.50 $235.00
Golden Age (80+) $2.75 n/a Free n/a n/a n/a
Appropriate identification must be provided. Fares as of September 01, 2015[10]

Metrolinx and HSR have partnered to operate the Presto electronic fare card. The project aims to standardize fare collection systems across transit agencies in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The system is currently operational.[11]



HSR also once operated horsecar (1873–1892) and streetcar (1892–1951) lines (hence the name). Trolleybuses were also run on a routes 1 King, 2 Barton and 3 Cannon from 1951 to 1988 - the trolleys lasted on route 2 Barton until 1993. Today HSR is exclusively a transit bus operator and has been Low Floor friendly since April 30 2009 with the Last High Floor buses Retired.



  • Stevenson & Co. closed horsecar
    • 6 - June 1874
    • 4 - December 1874
  • J. G. Brill and Company closed horsecar 1876
  • Jones's Sons Company closed horsecar 1879, 1890 (5)
  • Jones's Sons Company open horsecar 1889, 1890 (6)
  • J. G. Brill and Company open horsecar 1886
  • unknown builders of open and closed horsecars 1884
  • unknown builder, 4 closed and 1 open 1887
  • unknown builder, 3 closed and 4 open 1888
  • Allen horsecar sleigh 1881 and 1884
  • Jones sleigh 1877 (3)
  • Jones sleigh 1879 (4)


  • Paterson & Corbin Line car 1908
    • Line car /896
  • Preston Car Company closed car
    • Preston car 1912
    • DEST closed 1912
    • 28 DEDT closed 1912
    • DEST Paye
  • G.C. Kuhlman Car Company ST closed
    • sweeper 1908
  • 18 ex-Cleveland cars 1902
  • Laconia Car Company closed car
    • 1 DT/DEcar 1907 - ex Boston
  • 16 Ottawa Car Company DT/DE closed car 1910
    • sweeper
  • McGuire-Cummings Manufacturing Company sweeper 1916
  • Jones SE closed car
    • 5 Jones ST open
    • closed car
    • open car
    • DT closed
    • 10 DT open cars 1900
  • 24 National Steel Car SEDT closed 1927
  • 11 NSC DT/SE 1928
  • 11 NSC DT/SE 1929
  • Laconia Car Company DEDT
  • 15 ex-open horse cars
  • 10 ex-closed ST horsecars
  • 1 ST sand car
  • 5 ex-Brooklyn Rapid Transit Co 10 bench cars 1904
  • 10 ex-BRT Co cars 1905
  • 1 DT closed car from Boston 1906
  • 1 ex Boston car 1906
  • 1 work motor car (Koppel) 1900
  • 4 ex Boston cars 1908
  • 1 DT closed - ex Boston

Rubber Tire



Handicapped/disabled access Denotes wheelchair-accessible


Most staff at HSR are members (bus operators, mechanics and other transit workers) of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107. The local was formed in 1899 and also represents transit workers at Mississauga Transit. The local does not represent those working on city's paratransit service, Disabled and Aged Regional Transportation System (DARTS).


  1. ^ a b About the company
  2. ^ Name and relationship of HSR as shown on City website
  3. ^
  4. ^ http://www.hamilton.cas/default/files/media/browser/2015-08-10/21-upper_kenilworth-effectivesept_2015.pdf
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Cory Ruf (2014-05-27). "LRT and lessons to be learned from Hamilton's first flirtation with urban trains: In 1981, Council turned down elevated train line, despite province's vow to foot most of the bill".  
  8. ^ City of Hamilton - Rapid Transit
  9. ^ Why is the City of Hamilton interested in rapid transit?
  10. ^ 2013 HSR Ticket and Pass Vendors
  11. ^
  • Mills, John M. (1971). Cataract Traction:The Railways of Hamilton. Canadian Traction Series. Volume 2. Toronto: Upper Canada Railway Society & Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association. p. 116. 

External links

  • HSR website
  • Hamilton Transit History
  • HSR history
  • HSR Bus Roster
  • HSR streetcar roster
  • HSR horsecar roster
  • HSR Incline
  • HSR General Info
  • DEWIRED (Re: 1992 close-down of Trolleybus service)
  • JN's Hamilton Transit Photos
  • Tom's Trolleybus Pix Hamilton ON
  • Drawings and photos of Hamilton Street Railways buses
  • [2]
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