The Fourth Generation: The Edmonton GM-Brown Boveri Buses (1989-1993)

Text by James Bow.

In the late 1980s, the rebuilt Western Flyer coaches were beginning to show their age. This coincided with an era of declining revenues and subsidies at the TTC, and the TTC started giving serious consideration to replacing the trolley bus fleet. However, studies suggested that the earliest that new trolley buses could arrive would be 1993, and the TTC's current fleet was unlikely to last that long. In Edmonton, plans to extend their trolley bus system had slowed, and as many as 50 trolley buses were sitting surplus. So, the TTC and the Edmonton Transit System negotiated a deal. On December 12, 1989, ETS coaches 192 and 197 were delivered to the TTC's Hillcrest shops for evaluation in service conditions. They were in operation at Lansdowne Division by January 1990.

The New Kids

The Edmonton buses were extremely new, compared to other Toronto trolley buses. They had been built in 1980 using "fishbowl" bodies supplied by General Motors, and motors and controls supplied by Brown Boveri. When the vehicles were brought to Toronto, they maintained most of their Edmonton livery, but were renumbered to the TTC standard. Bus 192 became 9192 and 197 became 9197. Despite initial teething pains (the Edmonton motors were not used to Toronto's regenerative braking, and some repairs and retrofits had to take place to prevent burnt-out motors), the TTC were pleased with the results of the evaluation and sought to lease another 28 vehicles. These would replace Western Flyer coaches that the TTC were retiring due to electrical failure and severe body deterioration.

Edmonton trolleys were delivered by CP Rail between June 20 and July 4, 1999, two per flatcar. The coaches ranged in number from 163 to 199, and had nines added at the beginning of their numbers to bring them into the TTC standard. The lease was signed for three years, to terminate March 31, 1993, and was for $1500 per vehicle, per month. In total, the TTC was to spend $540,000 per year for this fleet of 30 trolley buses. Another ten coaches were leased and delivered in 1991.

A Temporary Fix

Originally, the TTC planned to replace its Western Flyers with new trolley buses, but budget pressures, and the high capital and operating costs associated with trolley bus operation, made them rethink this policy. In January 1992, in order to save $2 million towards covering a $30 million budget shortfall, the TTC pulled the trolley buses off the street. However, they found themselves saddled with the Edmonton lease, which obliged them to continue paying for the buses until the lease's termination in 1993. Rather than let the buses waste money doing nothing, the TTC reinstituted the trolley buses on Annette and Bay in 1992 using only the Edmonton trolley buses. A test run was made by 9183 on September 2 with service phased in gradually between September 4 and 8. The NDP government of the day helped with $385,000 in special funding.

It would only be a brief reprieve, however. Although it had been extended, the lease with Edmonton still ended at the end of July 1993. Annette service was phased out first, with the last trolley bus running into Lansdowne Garage in the early morning of July 12. The Bay trolley bus operated only four days longer, ending on the early morning of July 17, when 9151 departed Jarvis and Queens Quay at 12:40 a.m., arriving at Dupont and Davenport at 1:10 a.m. and running into Lansdowne Garage at 1:29 a.m. All coaches but one were shipped away by train in December 1993. Trolley bus 9155 was shipped to Hamilton (towed) on February 14, 1994. At the time, it was was still considering maintaining its trolley bus system using leased vehicles. This did not come to be, and coach 9155 was sent home in March 1994.

Principal Specifications

  • Fleet Class: T9
  • Fleet Numbers: 9149-9199
  • Builder: GM-Brown Boveri
  • Model: ?
  • Year Built (Leased): 1980 (1989-91 Edmonton)
  • Length: 41' 3" (12.57 m)
  • Width: 8' 6" (2.59 m)
  • Height: 9' 11.25" (3.03 m)
  • Wheelbase: 23' 8.75" (7.23 m)
  • Seating: 40
  • Weights - Normal (W1): 19840 lb (9000 kg)
  • Weights -- Normal (Service) (W4): 32440 lb (14715 kg) (83)
  • Weights -- Normal (Crush) (W5): 35890 lb (16280 kg) (106)

Brown Boveri Image Archive


  • Corley, Ray, 'Edmonton Coaches Leave TTC Property', Rail and Transit, December 1993, p8, The Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (Ontario).
  • Corley, Ray, Trolley Coach CC&F and Flyer Coaches, The Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto (Ontario), January 1987.
  • Filey, Mike, The TTC Story: The First Seventy-Five Years, Dundurn Press, Toronto (Ontario) 1996.
  • Scrimgeour, Pat and Scott Haskill., 'Toronto Trolley Coaches Stored', Rail and Transit, January 1992, p3-4, The Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (Ontario).
  • Wickson, Ted, 'TTC leases 30 Edmonton trolley coaches', UCRS Newsletter, July 1990, p19, The Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (Ontario).

Special thanks to Ray Corley for his corrections to this web page.