My column in today's Winnipeg Free Press column is about Transit Tom. The caricature was created by the Greater Winnipeg Transit Commission in 1957 to convince more Winnipeggers to take the bus and to keep riders up to date on route and fleet information.
He made his newspaper debut on September 7, 1957 and his regular usage declined around the time of Unicity in 1972. Every decade or two, his face makes a brief comeback and you will still often see handwritten sings at Transit stops tat indicate a chance in stop singed "T.T."
There was only so much artwork that I could include with my column, so here are more glimpses of Transit Tom from over the years. For more transit heritage related images, check out my Flickr album and the Manitoba Transit Heritage Association website.
The initial GWTC ad campaign featuring Tom:
Tom's first ad on September 7, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press
October 5, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press
October 14, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press
October 21, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press
November 16, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press
December 28, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press
July 10, 1958, Winnipeg Free Press
November 22, 1958, Winnipeg Free Press
September 6, 1969, Winnipeg Free Press
Other Tom appearances:
The late 1960s remake of Tom (also see)
2010 retro Tom !
In the 1920s, Winnipeg's public transportation system averaged about 50 million revenue passengers per year, which dropped to around 40 million during the Depression. In 1946, a record year for transit, the number surpassed the 100 million mark before starting a steady decline, (November 6, 1948, Winnipeg Tribune).
In 1954 it was down to 74 million and by 1958 that had retreated to 60 million, (source). Compare that to the nearly 40 million in 2006, (source).