Friday, October 4, 1929 The Newmarket Era Page 1, col. 1

Report on Metropolitan Railway by York Co. Transportation Com.

1004 Excelsior Life Bldg.,
Toronto, Ont.,
September 24, 1929.


Acting under instructions received from your committee on August 21st, 1929, to report on the Metropolitan Railway operating from the city terminus at Stop 26, North Yonge Street, to Sutton on Lake Simcoe, a distance of 48.66 miles, I beg leave to report briefly as follows:

I have not had time to investigate fully certain phases of the operation of the railway, but at a later period I hope this opportunity will be afforded.

The action of your committee in seeking a report and more information on the operation of the Metropolitan Electric Railway, was caused, I believe, by the recommendation of the Toronto Transportation Commission to Mr. Samuel McBride, Mayor of Toronto, and member of the Board of Control, in letter of May 21st, 19192, to the effect that the Metropolitan Railway should be abandoned on September 30, 1929.

York County Council have certain agreements confirmed by statute regarding operation, rights, privileges and franchises of this railway line. The original Metropolitan Street Railway Company of Toronto was incorporated in 1877 for the purpose of constructing and operating a street railway in the city of Toronto and adjoining municipalities, and was one of the first to be constructed on this continent. In 1886 the Metropolitan was extended up Yonge Street to Glengrove. In 1890 an agreement was signed between the County of York and the Metropolitan to extend the service to York Mills. In 1889 by an agreement with the County of York an extension was authorized to Richmond Hill. In 1893 the company was authorized and empowered to extend and operate their line of railway within the County of York to Lake Simcoe. In 1898 the railway was incorporated under the name of the Toronto and York Radial Company [not accurate]. The municipalities particularly interested, through which the railway passes, are the Towns of Newmarket and Aurora and the Villages of Thornhill, Richmond Hill and Sutton. The townships adjacent to the line and particularly interested are North York, Markham, Vaughan, King, Whitchurch, North Gwillimbury and East Gwillimbury.

The accompanying plan, reduced in scale from a plan of the railway obtained from the Toronto Transit Commission, shows the location of the line and the approximate population in the territory served. The total permanent population equals approximately 20,000, of which 17,000 are located on the section of the railway from Newmarket to the City of Toronto. There is a large summer population of approximately 9,500 tributary to the line on Lake Simcoe from Sutton to Keswick, a distance of eleven miles. There is also a considerable summer population in the vicinity of Bond Lake Park, about four miles south of Aurora.

This railway services a splendid permanent and summer population from the north city boundary line to Lake Simcoe. The summer resort facilities and attractions on Lake Simcoe are equal to any in the Province of Ontario.

The Metropolitan Railway, therefore, is an important agency of transportation between the expanding City of Toronto on the south, a popular summer resort on the north and a permanent population of 20,000 people. Many homes and permanent residence have been built in the area near the railway by reason of its operation; and if the railway be abandoned, these people will suffer hardships and financial loss never anticipated.

In the early years of operation, highway traffic was relatively unimportant. Horse-drawn vehicles operated within a radius of eight to ten miles and there was no long hail competition on the highways. The Toronto and York Radial Railways included not only the Metropolitan Division, but also the Mimico and Scarboro Divisions. The Metropolitan Division, as such, included the Schomberg and Aurora Division, a branch line of fourteen miles operating to and from Schomberg and Aurora Junction.

In the "Mackenzie Clean-up Deal" of 1920, the City of Toronto purchased the Toronto and York Radial Railways as an adjunct of the major purchases made at that time of the Toronto Street Railway System, an electrical power plant and other concessions and franchises. When the radials were purchased, the southern terminus of the Metropolitan Division was on Yonge street at Farnham Ave., about three miles south of the present terminus at the city boundary, Stop 26, North Yonge Street.

When the radials were purchased it was generally known that as commercial undertakings they were not producing handsome profits. But they were part and parcel of the "Clean-up Deal", and were purchased for the price of $2,375,000.00. The "Clean-up Deal", as a whole resulted in many benefits to the citizens of the City of Toronto, including very substantial savings in the cost of electrical energy. The radials were not purchased on their merits as revenue producers, but as necessary parts of one large deal although it was thought that the radials would be self-sustaining.

The City of Toronto acquired the radial lines on December 1st, 1920. The old management continued operation until November 1st, 1922, when the city handed over the radial control and operation of the lines to the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario.

In the rehabilitation and extensions of the old Toronto Railway system by the Toronto Transportation Commission, North Yonge Street was widened and double-tracked, and the terminus of the Metropolitan Railway was pushed farther north from Farnham Ave., to the city boundary at Stop 26, a distance of about three miles. In other words, the southerly miles of the radial were absorbed by the Toronto Transportation Commission from Farnham Ave. to the city boundary. This section of the radial line that was absorbed by the city system was the best paying part of the Metropolitan Division and practically carried the financial burden of all the radials acquired by the city. In 1922, the earnings on these three miles of the radial were approximately $400,000, which earnings are about fifteen times greater per mile than the average earnings of the line. So far as the Metropolitan Railway was concerned, having consideration to the purchase price and annual fixed charges, the loss in earning power on these three miles of radial changed the self-sustaining railway into a railway having large annual deficits. The City of Toronto through the operation of the T.T.C. now get the benefit of this profitable territory served by T.T.C. cars. The right of the T.T.C. to absorb these three miles radial has been contested in the Courts by the County Council, and the matter is now in abeyance for final adjustment between the city and the county. If the revenue taken by the city from this section were credited to radial operation there would be no deficits on the radial line.

When the Hydro-Electric Power Commission assumed the control and operation of the radials, they immediately requested funds for the rehabilitation and improvements of the line at an estimated cost of two million dollars, including the purchase of new and modern passengers.

Due to delays and mistakes in city by-laws, etc., the Commission only carried out a part of this program of betterments and improvements; the old, noisy obsolete cars continued to operate, the revenue did not increase as estimated and the operating expenses were high.

Under Hydro operation in 1924, the gross revenue on the three radial lines was reported as $761,137.00; the expenses, taxes, etc., $812,809.00; interest on the investment, $182,920.00; and a deficit of $234,593.00 In September, 1925, with the 1924 deficit on the radials under consideration, the Board of Control requested the T.T.C. to furnish the Board with particulars of any financial or other advantages that might accrue to the city from the operation of the radial railways by the T.T.C. which were then operated by the Hydro-Electric Power Commission.

The T.T.C. recommended that the gauge of the Metropolitan be changed from standard steam gauge, 4 feet 8 1/2 inches, to city street car gauge of 4 feet 10 7/8 inches, claiming that the alteration of the gauge to conform to the city standard would permit of "through" operation of cars at the city limits from the radial cars to the city cars. The T.T.C. anticipated substantial economies in operation by linking up the management of the radials with the city system and expressed the belief that the deficits would be eliminated after making certain changes and a complete reorganization. In fact, the T.T.C. report at this time, dated October 20th, 1925, to the Board of Control, indicates a strong desire on behalf of the Commission to take over the control and operation of the radial lines, and it is difficult to reconcile their recommendation for abandonment of the Metropolitan less than four years later. On January 11th, 1927, the control and operation of the radials were transferred from the Hydro-Electric Power Commission to the Toronto Transportation Commission, to be operated by the latter on behalf of the City of Toronto. The T.T.C. changed the gauge of the Metropolitan Division early in 1927, and in the same year abandoned the branch line from Aurora Junction from Schomberg. The recommendation to give a "through" radial service to downtown Toronto was carried into effect. By changing gauge of the Metropolitan, it was impossible to have a freight interchange with the steam roads as under the Hydro operation.

One June 24th, 1927, the City Council authorized the advance of capital funds to the extent of $480,000.00 for radial improvement made up as follows:

Track, new construction$105,000.00
New cars and remodelling cars 300,000.00
Miscellaneous 25,000.00

Of these funds, certain expenditure were made for trackwork, etc., but new cars were purchased. The history of radial operation since 1922 seems to indicate that when the time apparently came for real improvements to be made to the service, indecision and doubt crept in and the old uninviting service prevailed. There had been a lack of continuity of policy in their operation.

For the Metropolitan Division, the audited statement for 1927 shows a deficit of $327,019.92. This amount includes debentures interest of $135,367.14 and provision for redemption of debentures of $128,153.62. The fixed charges therefore amount to $263,520.76. During this year, extraordinary expenses were incurred on the Metropolitan Division by reason of changing the gauge of the railway line. These extraordinary expenses would amount to about $60,000.00. Excluded fixed charges and extraordinary 1928 is given at $381,044.38 and the expenses during 1929, from the T.T.C. to the Board of Control, the loss in annual fixed charges are stated to be $271,542.00. I have not been able to obtain an audited statement for 1928, which is information pertinent to this report. In letter from Mr. Harvey, Manager of the T.T.C., he states that the costs of operation for 1928 is $482,217.33 as against $494,426.26 for 1927, notwithstanding extraordinary expenses of about $60,000 included in the operating expenses for 1927. In the audited statement for 1927, expenditures on way and structures are given at $91,874.43; equipment $87,988.56; power, $90,589.04; conducting transportation, $162,822.25; general and miscellaneous , $32,497.48; and administration, $13,915.27. I have not been able to obtain detailed information on these lump sum figures for the different items—information that has an important bearing on this question. Operating expense for first eight months of 19192 is given at $237,886.00, which averages about $10,000 per month lower than 1928.

In the annual Government returns to the Ontario Railway and Municipal Board for 1928 for the three radials, as constituted at that time, repair of roadbed and tracks is given $69,911.73; repair for cars, $65,952.61; the repair of electric equipment on cars, $26,675.75; the cost of electrical motive power is given at $147,508.06, and the cost conducting transportation, $244,618.86. In statements of assets, the passenger cars and other rolling stock and electrical equipment of same are given that the cost of repairing cars and the electrical equipment during 1928, is nearly 68 per cent. of the value of this equipment.

In the Government return of 1927, under T.T.C. operation, the repair to cars is $104,282.18, and repairs to electrical equipment of same, $31,079.09, and the repairs to roadbed and track $101,302.74. For the years 1926-24-24 under Hydro operation the cost of repairs to cars according to Government returns averaged about $37,000 per year, and repairs to track about $90,000 per year. These returns include the three radial lines. According to these figures, the cost of repairs to equip and repairs to roadbed and track T.T.C. operation appear to be excessive, but for lack of detailed information we are not able to make any further comments.

If the City Council intend to abandon the operation of the Metropolitan Railway line, I think all detailed figures relating to the operation of the line should be furnished by the Toronto Transportation Commission, on account of the large number of people who are vitally interested in the operation of this railway.

On behalf of the parties interested in the continued operation of this line, I think it is fair to say that the impression appears to be general along the line of the radial that the T.T.C. are not interested in trying to make the radial line pay.

At this juncture, the question of bus competition comes prominently into the picture. Undoubtedly motor cars, motor trucks and motor buses have made very serious inroads into the revenue of the radial line, and will continue to do so. So far as privately owned motor cars are concerned, this competition is legitimate and no one has any complaint, but with the motor coach or motor bus it is different. Since February of this year, the T.T.C. have operated a line of coaches operating to Barrie and Orillia call in at Newmarket and stop at Aurora, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, etc. The result is that there is excess transportation service and the coaches are in competition with the electric railway and tend to take the "cream" of the traffic from the railway. The summer schedule shows that six motor coaches arrive at and leave Newmarket daily on the regular service as well as the coaches from Orillia, and certain additional service on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. All this, in addition to the regular radial service.

The motor coach has its legitimate field of service in the transportation field, and important branch of which is a co-ordinate and supplemental service to the electric railway, but not in direct competition with same. Coaches or buses have replaced many radial lines with no possibilities for future development, but the electric

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Railways: Met.Ry., S. & A.Ry.