When McMaster University's Hamilton campus opened its doors in 1930, transit service for students was very poor. The nearest form of public transit to campus was the WESTDALE-JAMES NORTH streetcar route, with the end of the line being Westdale loop, located at the northeast corner of King and Stirling, about a kilometre east of campus. At one point the HSR had planned to extend the streetcar line west onto the campus, but the ongoing Great Depression followed by the Second World War ended those plans.
It wasn’t until 1949 that on campus transit service began. The streetcar tracks in Westdale were removed in August of 1949, and streetcar service was replaced by the joint WESTDALE-WEST HAMILTON bus route, which connected the university to Hamilton's downtown core. The WEST HAMILTON bus ran west along King St onto campus, and then south into the neighbourhood of West Hamilton along Emerson. Service on Stirling was provided by the WESTDALE branch of this route.
By the end of the 1950s the WESTDALE branch had been eliminated, and the WEST HAMILTON bus had been routed onto Stirling to the centre of campus, and from there southwards to Main St West. By this time service had begun on Main St West itself, with the DUNDAS and MAIN WEST buses. This was the start of service patterns that would be mostly unchanged for the next several decades.
By 1971, the bus routes had received numbers. The WEST HAMILTON was now the 5C heading westbound, the 5A heading east. The MAIN WEST was now the 5B, and the DUNDAS bus was now the 52. One change that had occurred due to increasing numbers of students was the creation of a new route, the 5D UNIVERSITY, running from campus east to the downtown core along Stirling, King, Longwood, Main, and John, and then back along King. The 5D UNIVERSITY route was the first route to end on campus, with the end of the line located at the rear of the McMaster University Medical Centre.
By the start of the 1980s, the 5D UNIVERSITY had been renumbered 51A UNIVERSITY, and was extended through West Hamilton along Emerson and Whitney, and up Wilson to Ancaster (officially it was a branch of the 51 SANATORIUM, running between Ancaster and the Chedoke Hospital). This arrangement only lasted a few years, and by the late 1980s the 51A was once again the 5D, and had resumed its old route, although now it ended in front of the Medical Centre. Service between Ancaster and McMaster was retained in the form of the new 16 ANCASTER bus, which also looped in front of the Medical centre.
In 1986, the HSR created the 10 BEELINE, an express route running from Stoney Creek through the downtown core to McMaster. This new route also ended at the Medical Centre, but as the front was getting crowded, it looped at the rear of the building, by the hospital’s northwest entrance.
In the early 1990s, the removal of trolley bus operations in downtown Hamilton resulted in the former trolley bus route 1 KING being extended west to McMaster University. The new branch, the 1A KING, followed a similar route to the 5D UNIVERSITY, and also ended in front of the Medical centre. In order to make space for the new bus, the 16 ANCASTER’s terminus was relocated to an on campus stop next to the John Hodgins Engineering Building. Also at this time, the 5D was renumbered back to 51.
At the start of the 21st century, McMaster University had numerous bus routes passing by, passing through, or ending on campus. The 1A KING, 10 BEELINE, 16 ANCASTER, and 51 UNIVERSITY all ended on campus, either in front of or behind the Medical Centre. The 5A/5C WEST HAMILTON passed through campus from Main St West to Stirling, and along Main St West itself the 5B MAIN WEST and the 52 DUNDAS buses ran by the campus.
Two big changes happened to McMaster University as a bus terminal in 2003. The HSR decided to improve service by making it easier for Ancaster residents to reach downtown Hamilton. It was decided that as of June 22, 2003 the 16 ANCASTER would replaced with limited service on the 5A/5C WEST HAMILTON to eliminate the need for changing routes. In the summer of that year, complaints to the HSR by the McMaster Student Union regarding bus service in West Hamilton resulted in the 51 UNIVERSITY being extended from the Medical Centre along Emerson and Whitney to West Hamilton Loop, as of August 31, 2003
On September 2, 2007, the 10 BEELINE was extended westwards along Main St West to University plaza, due to the increase in students living in this area due to new development. This was followed a year later with the removal of the 10 B-LINE (now renamed) from the campus entirely, and being rerouted to run along Paradise and Main St W to University Plaza starting September 1, 2008. A new branch of the 10 B-LINE, the 10A, was created and ends in front of the Medical Centre with the 1A KING.
(All photos © Tom Luton, except where noted)
This satellite photo of McMaster University shows where various bus routes have ended over the years. (This photo predates the recent construction on the south side of campus, such as the new Main St Entrance) (Photo courtesy of Google Earth, Fall 2004)
HSR 8504 at McMaster University at the start of the 16 ANCASTER route, Oct 24, 2001
HSR 9206 waits to enter service on the 10 BEELINE at McMaster University, Oct 23, 2001
HSR 9808 in front of the McMaster University Medical Centre at the start of the 1A KING route, April 23, 2002
HSR 518203 (ex 8203) at McMaster University on the 51 UNIVERSITY, April 16, 2004