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Aquatic Park/Tommy Thompson (1981-1991)

Compiled by Pete Coulman

As “Aquatic Park”

June 13, 1981 - September 20, 1981

Service begins on the AQUATIC PARK shuttle service, replacing a summer-only service that operated the year before as 31A GREENWOOD - “Harbour Headland”. A single bus operating on an hourly headway for eight hours a day, weekends and holidays, ran from the Queen/Leslie intersection via south on Leslie into the Aquatic Park on the Leslie Street Spit, returning via the reverse route. In the previous year, while fares were charged and transfers offered outside of the park, free rides were offered within the park itself, with the City of Toronto providing a $2,000 subsidy. This year, the service operations under an agreement with the City of Toronto wherein council covered 70% of the line’s net operating costs. After the service completed, the TTC reviewed the operations and, at a meeting on April 28, 1982, approved another run for next summer.

S P E C I A L

Weekends and holidays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“AQUATIC PARK” window card used

June 5, 1982 - September 6, 1982

Service resumes on the AQUATIC PARK, following the same route as last year. However, serious operating problems were identified within the park, mostly resulting from poor road conditions. Although some superficial road work temporarily solved these problems the TTC recommended that Commissioners request the City of Toronto to assume responsibility “for ensuring adequate operating conditions prior to the service approval”.

For its part, the City of Toronto requested that the bus service be extended to operate east along Unwin to serve recreational users, visitors to the Outer Harbour Headlands, and any industrial operations which maintained weekend shifts. TTC staff determined that the provision of service along Unwin Avenue was not feasible due to poor road conditions, rail crossings, two 90 degree turns and a single-lane bridge along the narrow roadway.

As a result of this disagreement, service on AQUATIC PARK was suspended for the summers of 1983 and 1984.

June 1, 1985 - September 2, 1985

Funding for this route was provided by the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, and the TTC approved operation at its meeting on April 23, 1985. Service resumed on June 1st following the original route.

However, according to a TTC report, “Shortly after the commencement of the 1985 bus operation, certain jurisdictional problems arose as a result of the split ownership of the Leslie Street Spit by MTRCA and the Toronto Harbour Commission. Concern was expressed in respect to the Commission’s exposure to liability in the event that disembarked bus passengers were injured on the Harbour Commission’s lands, which are currently designated as “No Trespassing” areas. Although the TTC met this year’s commitment to operate this advertised service, the City of Toronto and the MTRCA are advised that the Commission will not entertain requests for operation of this service in future years unless this jurisdictional issue is resolved to the Commission’s satisfaction.”

It is not known what the MTRCA or the THC did to meet the TTC’s concerns, but operations of the AQUATIC PARK bus continued the following summer.

June 1986 - September 1, 1986

Service resumes, with no change to routing or schedule.

June 6, 1987 - September 7, 1987

Service confirmed at the TTC’s meeting on April 21, 1987. Service resumes June 6 on a shorter, 5.6 mile round-trip route, due to a new channel cut through the main spine of the Leslie Street spit, associated with the dredging of the Keating Channel. Bus again leave hourly from Queen and Berkshire (Jones) from 8:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., depart the park gate southbound from 8:55 a.m. to 5:55 p.m. and return from the park northbound from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a last trip departing at 6:00 p.m.

As “Tommy Thompson”

June 6, 1988 - September 5, 1988

With the park renamed Tommy Thompson park, service resumes on the renamed route, following last year’s route and departure times. The name only appears on promotional literature and on TTC window cards, as “SPECIAL” or blank rollsign exposures are still used.

S P E C I A L

Weekends and holidays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“TOMMY THOMPSON” window card used

June 3, 1989 - September 4, 1989

Service resumes under the previous year’s route and schedule.

June 1990 - September 3, 1990

Service resumes under the previous year’s route and schedule.

June 1991 - September 2, 1991

Service resumes under the previous year’s route and schedule.

No records exist of operations after this date, but no records exist of a formal end of service, either. Today, the bus does not operate, and the official website of Tommy Thompson park directs visitors to arrive via 83 JONES and to walk south on Leslie Street from Commissioners Street. On Sundays and holidays when the 83 JONES bus does not run, visitors are directed to take the 501 QUEEN streetcar and walk south from Queen.