Do-It-Yourself Transit Guide
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Do-It-Yourself Transit Guide

Photo by ariehsinger from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
Strike days like this make us wonder how difficult it’d be to run our own transportation service in Toronto. Of course, you couldn’t actually open your own transit company—the City of Toronto Act says the only people who can run public transit are the TTC—but there are currently hundreds of kilometres of vacant rail on the street and underground, just waiting to carry millions of people to their destinations.
Our DIY solutions after the jump.


Photos from
Railriders are nifty human-powered rail vehicles that would presumably fit on CN Rails; creator Ron Forster will adjust the gauge for you on request, enabling them to fit on streetcar and subway tracks. The cost is approximately $2,000 for a four-seater. You can also add an electric motor, which could theoretically be solar-powered.


Photo by mjb84.
Before service trucks were given rail wheels, “Speeders” were used to check rails for track defects. They seat 2–4 people, and could probably pull a bit of weight behind them for passenger cars. These could be easily modified to run off vegetable oil, which would make operating them essentially free.


Photo by donnamarijne.
And there’s always the railbike, another human-powered rail vehicle made from a bicycle. All it requires is some basic welding knowledge, although it does not have many advantages over riding in the street, and you can only transport 1–2 people.
Just like the TTC, you can modify your car to run on rails. You could easily make it from the former Parkdale station to Union in five minutes or less. This is for people who really, really hate traffic. Pickups would be the best suited for DIY transit, enabling you to carry around dozens of strangers in the back like a Somalian militia.
To operate railcars legally, you must be a member of NARCOA, the North American Railcar Operators Association. With a licence, you can use public rails for free, and pay a small fee to use private rails. These trips must generally be scheduled in advance, and you should use a radio to avoid railway accidents.
If anybody decides to start operating their own wildcat service, please let us know.