Ever since I was young, trams - or streetcars as they are called in Toronto - have fascinated me. From where we lived, it was usually the bus and subway that we took to get downtown, but every now and then we would go somewhere along Queen St or Gerrard St and that meant a streetcar. I still prefer the streetcar or LRT (light rail transit) to buses, and wish we weren't so opposed to a dedicated rail lane in our cities. Having experienced the excellent tram system in Amsterdam recently, I fear neither Toronto nor Hamilton will ever catch up.
This FDC from 1987 shows a variety of interesting double decker trams. With a little research, I learned that every city in Ireland had its own distinctive trams that set each apart from another.
- the Cork Electric Tram operated from 1898 to 1931, falling victim to the popularity of the omnibus. By 1901 there were 35 trams running along three routes for 9 miles
- the Dublin Standard Tram was started amid much opposition (from the horse trams) in 1896. The last horse tram was in 1901 and by then the Dublin United Tramways Co had over 50 miles of electrified trams running through the city. In the mid 1940's electric trams were abandoned and the last one to finish its route needed police protection from souvenir hunters
- the Howth Tram was part of the Great Northern Railway and ran from 1901 to 1959. It's route was 5 miles on a mostly single track and when it was shut down two bus routes were needed because of the narrow hill curves. In winter, icy roads on the hill sometimes cause suspension in the bus service, unlike the trams which ran in all weather conditions
- the Galway Horse Tram ran between 1879 and 1918. There were six double decker tram cars and each needed two horses for the 2 mile journey from Galway to the seaside town of Salthill. It relied heavily on the tourist trade, which, naturally plummeted during the First World War. Also, the horses were commandeered by the British Army