Discover Regina Transit's History
Take a ride with us and learn about Regina Transit’s proud history as Saskatchewan’s longest-operating transit system.
The Early Years – 1911- 1919
Saskatchewan was booming in 1911 and so was its capital city. Regina boasted a population of 30,000.
The 4 streetcars put into service by the Regina Municipal Railway (RMR) on July 28, 1911 were proof that Regina was a modern and up-to-date city.
Citizens were proud as the new streetcars travelled to and from the exhibition grounds on July 31st, opening day of the world-class Dominion Exhibition. Fares were set at 5¢ per trip.
During the first 2 years of operation, the system nearly tripled its original 10 miles of track, boasted 34 streetcars, and employed over 150 people. In addition to passenger service, the railway expanded to haul freight, coal and garbage.
The boom collapsed in 1914. During the course of World War 1, the city's population declined, ridership dropped and cutbacks occurred. There were no further expansions and many tracks were dismantled.
Advertising on billboards was introduced in larger cars.
By 1919, returning servicemen were making a difference and the system carried a million more passengers than in the previous year.
Challenging Times – 1920 –1949
In 1920, fares were raised to 10¢. Streetcars became “one-man operations” with only a motorman on duty, eliminating the job of the conductor.
In the late 1920s, the system was serving a growing active city and maintained a fairly steady pace. New and larger cars were purchased. However, tough times were ahead. The "dirty 30s" saw huge deficits resulting in major cutbacks in service.
By 1931, there was only 20 miles of track left. Through an agreement with the railway, the first operation of a bus service was established. Checker Stage Service Ltd. provided 20-minute service from downtown to the Cathedral area.
Ridership grew dramatically in the 1940s because of a shortage of gasoline and steel because of World War ll. The 32 streetcars used in 1945 carried 9 million more passengers than they had in 1940.
By 1946, the system had carried a record 17,355,095 people.
In 1947, the railway introduced the first trolleys – electrical cars with rubber tires. Garbage disposal and coal hauling were eliminated. By the end of the year, much of street railway had disappeared.
Fire - 1949
A spectacular fire, which all but crippled transit services in Regina, occurred on January 23, 1949.
Disaster struck when fire destroyed the car barns, 17 trolley coaches, 9 gasoline buses, 5 steel streetcars and 9 wooden cars. At the time, it was considered one of the most destructive fires in western Canada.
It took the city almost a year to replace the losses caused by this fire.
Photo credit: L.H. Shaw, Regina Leader Post
In 1950, the name was changed to Regina Transit System (RTS). That same year, the regular street railway service ended as car 43 rolled into the barns after 22 years and 1.25 million miles of service.
Expanding Services - 1950-1986
The RTS used trolleys exclusively until 1955, when the first diesel buses were introduced. Buses slowly began to replace trolleys.
The last trolley completed its route in 1966.
Photo: National Film Board
To keep pace with the growth of new suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s, the Regina Transit System added more routes. Residents were served by a fleet of diesel buses travelling to and from the downtown core.
In the early 1970s, the Regina Transit System experimented with a Telebus service using small buses that came right to the door in suburban neighbourhoods. It was intended to complement the fixed-route service offered in more densely-populated areas of the city. It was discontinued in the early 1980s.
In 1975, a Paratransit Service began providing residents with disabilities who were unable to use regular transit. It provided door-to-door, driver assisted service.
In 1986, 106 buses carried over 35,000 passengers every day.
At the request of customers, Night Stop was introduced in 1993 allowing customers to exit the bus at any point along the regular bus route after dark.
SafeBus was introduced in 1996. People in need of assistance can find a safe refuge in any Regina Transit vehicle while the bus operator radios the appropriate emergency service for assistance.
Low-floor buses were introduced in 1998 to enable persons with mobility issues to access regular public transportation. They also helped those people who use strollers or carts to easily get on and off the bus.
Moving into the 21st Century
In 2010, Regina Transit boasts a fleet of 105 diesel buses which carried just under 7.3 million passengers on 17 integrated routes throughout the Queen City. The service, provided by 174 bus drivers, every day of the week, except for holidays.