Originally written in 1998, Revised by Jelo Gutierrez Cantos with information from Richard Hooles and Allen Dicion in 2015
In 1998, the TTC accepted a number of GM buses from the Société de transport de la communauté urbaine de Montréal (STCUM) of Montréal, who had excess buses at the time. They were primarily purchased to replace the prematurely retired D40-87s and to cope with an increase in TTC ridership coinciding with a substantially reduced capital budget. Serious concerns with the quality of a number of the TTC’s newest buses had encouraged the TTC to find and rebuild more reliable older bus models, including the youngest of its own GM New Look fleet. STCUM’s GM New Looks helped fill the gaps.
Originally, the TTC planned to purchase and rebuild as many as 100 of these vehicles from Montreal. However, the costs of such a purchase and rebuild plus the differences in the STCUM buses’ design, combined with how effectively the TTC was able to rebuild their own fleet through their Fleet Augmentation Program, convinced the TTC to drop the number rebuilt from STCUM to just twenty. After a rebuild to bring the buses up to TTC standards, they were released onto the streets, starting with bus #2600 in late 1998 and continuing to late July 1999.
These buses, numbered in the 2600 series, were different in many of ways from typical TTC GM buses. The most noticeable difference were the McKay gates. These gates were located at the rear doors of these buses and served the same purpose as treadles and push bars on other TTC buses, opening the rear doors of the bus once the driver has allowed the rear doors to be opened. McKay gates were used on all STCUM buses until recent years, and were also used on trolley coaches in Vancouver. They had the advantage over treadles of encouraging people to stay off the steps until they wished to exit from the bus. Unlike treadles, they were not as affected by water, road salt and dirt.
The disadvantage of the MaKay Gate is that it makes boarding the bus through the back door more difficult, as passengers had to pull the gate towards them to enter. In Montreal and Vancouver, customers did not usually enter buses through the rear doors, but the TTC often opened both front and rear doors, especially at subway stations where free transfers existed between the subway and surface routes, to speed up boarding.
This feature alone generally limited the STCUM buses to routes where rear door boarding was not used, the most prominent of these being 35 JANE — a high volume route without a direct transfer with the subway. For this reason, the Montreal rebuilds have been kept in the Arrow Road garage, which served the 35 JANE route.
The Montreal rebuilds also had an unusual set of seats — at least, by TTC standards — which customers called “comfortable” and “very ugly”. The seating and some of the interior was coloured dark brown — a design decision made to reduce the reflection of the interior in the driver’s windscreen.
Following the 35 JANE’s conversion to low floor buses, the STCUM buses were assigned to the 41 KEELE and 89 WESTON, as well as 96 WILSON until their retirement in 2006. Bus #2619 has since been donated to Belka. Other STCUM buses that were purchased by the TTC but not rebuilt were initially stored on TTC property at the Lansdowne garage where they were stripped of usable parts. They were eventually sold to a scrap dealer in Quebec along with other retired TTC buses parked alongside them at Lansdowne.