Hamilton Street Railway

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Hamilton Street Railway
Hamilton Street Railway (logo).png
Hamilton Street Railway 510213 wide.jpg
New Flyer C40LF #510213 on the 5C route in Downtown Hamilton
Founded1873[citation needed]
Headquarters2200 Upper James Street, Hamilton, Ontario
LocaleHamilton, Ontario, Canada
Service areaHamilton and Burlington
Service typePublic transport
Routes34 + 2 seasonal
Fleet260 buses[1]
Fuel typeDiesel, CNG, Diesel-electric
OperatorCity of Hamilton

The Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) is a public transport agency in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The name is a legacy of the company's early period, when public transit in Hamilton was primarily served by streetcars. Although streetcars are no longer used in the city today, the HSR operates bus and paratransit services, with a ridership of 21 million passengers a year. The HSR uses the Presto card as its method of fare payment, allowing for connections with GO Transit and other transit systems in the Greater Toronto area.[1]


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, and in 2001 regional amalgamation placed its ownership back to the city of Hamilton.

Other streetcar systems[edit]


Bus routes[edit]

No. Name Inner Terminal Outer Terminal Notes
1 King Eastgate Square Hamilton GO Centre Sunday service extends to Fiesta Mall.
1 King Eastgate Square 1A University Plaza via McMaster University Weekday daytime 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
5 Delaware 5E QUIGLEY AT GREENHILL 52 Pirie Drive (Dundas) Route 5E runs eastbound, Route 52 runs westbound. 7-Day Service to Governors began in 2014. Late Evening Service to Stoney Creek began in 2014
or 5C 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.[2]
5 Delaware JONES AT KING 52 HEAD STREET (Dundas) Route 5 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
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 and Saturday daytime & early evening express service. Most trips interlined with 55 STONEY CREEK CENTRAL whilst the rest are interlined with 58 STONEY CREEK LOCAL
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 New Clockwise & Counter-Clockwise Routing. No Services the Wal-Mart & Horseshoe Crescent Plazas. Service runs Weekdays & Saturdays until 8:00pm. 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 Runs Weekdays from 5:00am to 7:00on with 30 minute midday service and 20 minute peak service. Services Mohawk College & Mountain Transit Centre Park & Ride. Southbound buses service MacNab Terminal
21 Upper Kenilworth MacNab Transit Terminal Heritage Greene Shopping Centre (as of Sept. 6, 2015)[3]
22 Upper Ottawa MacNab Transit Terminal Upper Ottawa & Rymal Limited trips service Anchor & Bigwin
23 Upper Gage MacNab Transit Terminal Upper Gage & Rymal
24 Upper Sherman MacNab Transit Terminal Upper Gage & Rymal Routing via St Jean de Brebeuf School cancelled 2014.
25 Upper Wentworth MacNab Transit Terminal Lime Ridge Mall
26 Upper Wellington MacNab Transit Terminal via Rymal Lime Ridge Mall via Rymal
27 Upper James MacNab Transit Terminal Mountain Transit Centre Park & Ride
33 Sanatorium MacNab Transit Terminal Mohawk & Scenic Loop Routing through Chedoke Arena cancelled 2014. Serves new Mohawk College Terminal
34 Upper Paradise Downtown (Main & MacNab) Glancaster Loop
34A Upper Paradise Downtown (Main & MacNab) Upper Horning Loop
35 College MacNab Transit Terminal St. Elizabeth Village Loop Alternating routing via Garth and via Upper James. Serves new Mohawk College Terminal
41 Mohawk Ancaster Meadowlands/41A Chedoke Hospital Gage & Industrial Does not serve Downtown.Alternating Routing via Ottawa & Kenilworth. Services Lime Ridge Mall
42 Mohawk East Lime Ridge Mall Mohawk 4 Ice Centre Does not serve Downtown. Formerly the Mohawk East Extra. Extension on trial until September 2017. Daily Service.
43 Stone Church Saltfleet Secondary School (Highland & Aubrey) Ancaster Meadowlands 7-day a week service from 6AM–midnight began Aug. 31, 2014.[4] Does not serve Downtown. Services Lime Ridge Mall Interlined with 16 Ancaster (Weekdays & Saturdays Only)
44 Rymal Confederation GO Station Ancaster Business Park/Glancaster Loop (Weekends) 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
Route 51 Special operates during the McMaster University Orientation Week (last week of August)
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.
55 Stoney Creek Central Eastgate Square 55A Levi Loop Does not serve Downtown.
56 Centennial Eastgate Square Lakeland Loop Weekend and holiday service only. Service via Confederation Plaza (Walmart Supercentre). Also serves Confederation Park during the summer. Does not serve Downtown.
58 Stoney Creek Local Eastgate Square Hwy 8 & Jones Via Centennial & King. Does not serve Downtown.
99 Waterfront Shuttle Downtown (King opp. Summer's Lane) Pier 8 (Discovery Drive) Seven-day summer-only service.

Route histories[edit]

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[edit]

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. Trolley buses replaced streetcars in Hamilton in 1951.

Trolley bus routes[edit]

A trolley bus on King Street in 1968

Trolleybuses 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[edit]

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[edit]

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.[5] The line would have used the same technology as the Scarborough RT in Toronto. 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.[5]

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 Rapid Transit Web Banner.png

Hamilton and Metrolinx will build a provincially-funded LRT line (Hamilton LRT) in the early 2020s.[6] Land acquisition and building demolition for a 14 kilometre line from McMaster University to Eastgate Square will proceed in 2019.[7] No vehicles have been chosen, but the trains may be similar to the Flexity Freedom to be used in Waterloo Region's Ion rapid transit and Toronto's Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

The planned BLAST network routes may eventually include:[8][9]



  • 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–present Mountain Regional Transit Centre on Upper James Street
  • 1990–1998 Wentworth Street Transit Centre


Location Type Notes
Barton & Bell Manor Loop Bus 2 Barton Terminus, 55A Stoney Creek Central
CNIB/Main West Loop Bus Removed
Hillcrest Loop Bus Locke Route; technically terminus for three-point-turn
Glancaster Road Loop Bus 34 Upper Paradise Terminus, 44 Rymal Terminus (weekends only)
Guise Loop Streetcar
Kenilworth & Barton Trolley bus Short turn loop
Kenilworth & Cannon Trolley bus Short turn loop
King & James turntable Streetcar
Lakeland Loop Bus 56 Centennial Terminus
Levi Loop Bus 55A Stoney Creek Central Terminus. Also a Trans-Cab Transfer Point
Main & London Trolley bus King route short turn loop
Princess Point Loop Bus 6 Aberdeen Terminus
Queenston Loop Bus No longer used (replaced with Fiesta Mall)
Scenic & Lavender Loop Bus 33 Sanatorium Terminus
Strathcona & Lamoreaux Bus 8 York Terminus
Strathearne Loop Trolley bus Strathearne & Roxborough Ave; no longer used
Titan Loop Bus
Valley Park Loop Bus Discontinued. Routes 11 Parkdale & 43 Stonechurch share a stop on Paramount in front of the loop
West Hamilton Loop Bus 5 Delaware-5C West Hamilton Loop Terminus (Weekdays Only) & 51 University Terminus
Westdale Loop Streetcar

Terminals and connections[edit]

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. Route 34 has a layover location on Main at MacNab.

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 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.

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[edit]

Location Routes
Bell Manor Loop 2, 55A
Eastgate Transit Terminal 1, 10, 44, 55/55A, 56, 58
Glancaster Loop 34, 44, Redeemer University College Shuttle (limited service)
Lime Ridge Transit Terminal 25, 26, 41/41A, 43, Mohawk East Extra Shuttle
McMaster University 1A, 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)
Mohawk College Transit Terminal 20, 21, 33, 35[10]
Upper Horning Loop 34A
West Hamilton Loop 5C, 51


Fare Class Single fare Monthly pass Annual pass
(Age group) Cash Ticket Presto Paper Presto Presto
Student (5 to 19) $3.25 $2.05 $90.20 n/a
Adult $3.25 $2.50 $110.00 n/a
Senior (65+) $3.25 $2.50 $2.05 n/a $32.50 $325.00
Golden Age Presto Pass
Golden Age (80+) Free
Appropriate identification must be provided. Fares as of September 1, 2019[11]

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.[12]



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).[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b About the company
  2. ^ http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/1530720E-580B-4675-B537-51C4EB0720BC/0/SE12Route5.pdf
  3. ^ http://www.hamilton.ca/sites/default/files/media/browser/2015-08-10/21-upper_kenilworth-effectivesept_2015.pdf
  4. ^ http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/AB4E9539-AB8C-4FF2-8D85-3BF66047B7BC/0/SEPT14_StoneChurch.pdf
  5. ^ 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". CBC News. Archived from the original on 2014-05-28. On the night of Dec. 15, 1981, Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Council rejected a proposal to build a $111-million elevated train line from Jackson Square in the city’s core to Lime Ridge Mall, the hub for what was then the southern fringe of the Mountain’s blooming suburbs.
  6. ^ Craggs, Samantha (Apr 11, 2019). "Provincial budget confirms - again - that Hamilton will get LRT". CBC News.
  7. ^ Craggs, Samantha (March 28, 2019). "Metrolinx resumes buying land for Hamilton LRT after 7-month pause". CBC News.
  8. ^ City of Hamilton - Rapid Transit Archived 2010-03-25 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Why is the City of Hamilton interested in rapid transit?
  10. ^ Mohawk College Transit Terminal
  11. ^ Cash, Tickets and Passes
  12. ^ http://www.metrolinx.com/mx/en/board/20101116/Metrolinx_Update_November16_v6.pdf[permanent dead link]
  • 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[edit]