Streetcar History - Edmonton Radial Railway

The Edmonton streetcar system started in 1908 with a total route length of 19 km (12 mi). Within the next few years the system was extended at a rapid pace, growing to 53.9 miles in 1915. The system's largest extent was reached in 1920 with a total of 56.2 route miles. With the exception of the abandonment of the 102 Avenue stub line in 1932 the network remained unchanged up to the introduction of the first trolleybuses in 1939. During the war years streetcars were still the backbone of public transportation in Edmonton and carried huge numbers of passengers. Even conductors (mostly female) had to be reintroduced to help handle the crowds. On the downside, tracks and cars became worn out and in 1947 major cutbacks to the streetcar routes were implemented. During the last two years, only the blue and blue & white routes survived on 17 route miles. This last streetcar service from a loop on 109 Street and 84 Avenue across the High Level Bridge to North Edmonton (66 Street and 124 Avenue) was terminated on September 1, 1951. The famous ride across the High Level Bridge and street railway service in Edmonton had finally reached the end of the line.

During the first full year of streetcar service in 1909, a total of 2.2 million annual passengers were reported. As a matter of interest, the population of the city had barely reached 27,000 inhabitants. The peak passenger count before bus service was added amounted to 14.1 million in 1929. At the same time the city had grown to approximately 75,000 inhabitants. For later years no separate passenger figures for streetcars are available. Nevertheless, during the war years when the bulk of the Edmonton routes were still a streetcar domain, the total number of passengers carried by the public transportation system reached 34 million in 1945.

The individual routes were not indicated with numbers as today, but with signs (respectively lights at night) in different colours. A listing of all streetcar routes can be downloaded here.