Career Profile: Subway and Streetcar...

Career Profile: Subway and Streetcar Operators

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

If you live in a city like Toronto or Vancouver, you might sometimes take subways or streetcars.  Have you ever thought about driving one of those vehicles? Working as a subway or streetcar operator could be a good choice for you.

In some ways, driving a subway or streetcar is easier than driving other vehicles because they run on tracks instead of going along the roads with cars and trucks. Still, driving these large vehicles requires skill. Most people in this job need at least a high school education. Knowing about electricity and being able to solve problems when something goes wrong is also very helpful. Studies in engineering or related fields can lead to good jobs in this field, and certification is necessary for some jobs.

Working conditions for subway and streetcar operators can vary. In some cases, working with passengers who might be angry or aggressive might be a part of the job, but sometimes the drivers have little or no contact with the public. Streetcars are normally above ground and might have to stop for bad conditions, but subways are normally underground.

Still, drivers have to be aware of potential dangers, such as a broken rail or another train coming along the track. If there are problems with the passengers, the operators might also need to alert the police or paramedics to take care of the problem. Streetcar operators, especially, can help other city workers watch for troubles, whether they see a broken water pipe or a crime taking place.

Being a streetcar or subway operator involves more than just driving a train along a track. Drivers have to learn to stop at the right place so that passengers can get on or off and be aware of their surroundings so that they know when to open and close the doors. If there are delays, accidents, or problems with the trains, they need to report these problems. Keeping to an exact schedule is very important because passengers depend on riding the trains to get to work or school on time.

In Canada, only Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver have subways, but Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Toronto have streetcar (or light rail) systems. If you live in another part of the country, you will need to move to one of these cities or to the United States to get work. Depending on where you go, salaries in these jobs begin at about $15 per hour and rise to about $33 per hour.

The work does not require a lot of strength, but it can be difficult to sit for hours and still to remain alert. Some people stay in this job for their entire careers, but others prefer to move to something less tiring as they get older. Normally, operators have to do shift work, which can also be tiring. The work can sometimes lead to other jobs, such as driving a school bus or leading a sightseeing tour.


Bouw, Brenda. “I want to Be a Transit Driver. What will My Salary Be?” https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/career-advice/life-at-work/i-want-to-be-a-transit-driver-what-will-my-salary-be/article18663170/.


Glassdoor.ca. “Toronto Transit Commission Salaries.” https://www.glassdoor.ca/Salary/TTC-Toronto-Transit-Commission-Salaries-E327306.htm.

Government of Canada. “Transit Operator – Transportation near Toronto, ON.”. https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/requirements/23334/22437.

Skilled Immigrant Info Centre. “Bus Drivers, Transit & Subway Operators.” https://pwp.vpl.ca/siic/guides/bus-drivers-transit-subway-operators/.

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