N.S. & T (The Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway)
Public transit came to St. Catharines on November 1, 1879 with the inauguration of the St. Catharines Street Railway. The system became the world’s first commercial electric railway. In 1899 the Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway (N.S.& T.) purchased the system. Canadian National Railways took over the N.S.& T. in 1923, and for the next 25 years St. Catharines was in the unique position of having a multimodal transit system with direct rail and bus routes to nearby towns and cities, direct connections to steamships and major North American railways. Of historical significance is the fact that the last interurban electric streetcar movement in Canada took place in 1959 between Thorold and Port Colborne. By this time Canadian National buses had replaced streetcars on all other routes.
Canadian National exercised a notice of final discontinuance of their transit bus operation in August 1960 and by September 1961 the St. Catharines Transit Commission was formed, with Commissioners appointed by city council. The fleet started out with 35 buses and a maintenance garage. In the intervening decades, routes were expanded and eventually the Commission outgrew its first home on the eastern edge of the city on the Southeast corner of Bunting Road at Eastchester Avenue.
A new state of the art transit headquarters and maintenance garage was opened on First Street Louth in 1991. As of 2013 there are 20 bus routes with all buses being fully accessible, and 135 employees with 66 conventional buses and 8 paratransit buses.
A modern downtown terminal was opened in December of 1996. A hub for city and intercity routes, the passenger terminal is located within the first floor of the provincial Ministry of Transportation building on the corner of St. Paul Street and Carlisle Street.
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In December 1874, the St.Catharines Street Railway Co. was chartered to build a horsecar line in the towns and villages of Port Dalhousie, Merritton,St.Catharines, and in Thorold and Grantham Township. A short portion of line was opened on November 1, 1879. The Patterson & Corbin Company of St.Catharines built number 1, the firsthorse drawn street car in the city.
In 1902, the N. S. &T. took over operations of the steamer passenger service between Port Dalhousie and Toronto, across Lake Ontario. The Garden City is pictured here about to depart Port Dalhousie for Toronto.
Car Number 58 of the Niagara, St.Catharines and Toronto Railway was one of the cars rebuilt by Preston Car & Coach following a 1915 ban on opencars. This car was in operation from 1900 to 1933 when it was scrapped.
Photo at right shows 2 buses seen parked on St.Paul St. West. The first is an inter-city highway coach, while the smaller one appears to be a local bus. N.S.& T.overhead can still be seen in this view. Photo courtesy Merv Porter collection.
In 1926, twelve light-weight streetcars were purchased from the Cincinatti Car Corporation. These were numbered 301 to 312 inclusive. Being unit body construction with curved sides for strength, these cars were commonly referred to as Cincinnati curve-side cars. Shipped in kit form from Ohio, they were assembled at N. S. & T.’s Welland Avenue Shops. The cars rusted prematurely and all twelve were scrapped by September 1950. Car 301 is pictured here. Photo courtesy Johan Wight collection.
St. Catharines Transit Commission
When the Commission took over operation of the St.Catharines city service from Canadian National Transportation in 1961, it inherited 11 Brill buses. Number 11, model C36TC was built in 1951.
Twin Coach bus number 15 was a model 38S built in 1948.
In 1967 this St. Catharines Transit bus a 4512 coach 32 was painted to honour the 100 year centennial of Canada.
In 1976 this St. Catharines Transit bus a 4512 coach 32 was painted to honour the 100 year centennial of St. Catharines.
This is a photo of the Pen Centre Hub back in 1975. These 3 buses are parked beside the current Zehr’s store and the south entrance to the Pen Centre by The Bay.
This is a photo of a new 40 ‘ Orion 1 purchased in 1987. This coach had a Detroit 6V71 engine. The Orion also had a HT748 transmission. Photo by Phil Porter.
Number 8844 is a 1988 MCI Classic model TC40102N. Photo by Tom Wright.
Coach 9052 is a Orion 5 entering the new Downtown Terminal, from Carlisle Street. Photo by Phil Porter.
The new St.Catharines Transit Commission Operations Facility opened April 5th, 1991. Located on 2012 First Street Louth off of Fourth Avenue. Photo by Tom Wright.
This photo of the New Downtown Terminal and MTO building was taken in February 1995. Construction was completed in 1996. Photo taken by Phil Porter.
New Downtown Terminal and MTO building, 1996. Photo taken by Tom Wright.
Back in 2007 the fuel prices were rising drastically. St. Catharines Transit had started purchasing hybrid buses. Hybrid buses were way more fuel efficient than originally expected. The Don’t Fuel Around advertising on the Hybrid bus was very catchy around town. 22 of of our 65 bus fleet are hybrids. Photo taken by Phil Porter.
St Catharines Transit Commission celebrated their 50th anniversary on September 1 2011 and they look forward to providing excellent service to the residents of St Catharines and Thorold for another 50 years.