Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Ben Crouch, Nov 13, 2018.
This guy named Bullfrog1954 on YouTube.
The Virginia Creeper Scenic Railroad
The Norfolk and Western was acquired via controlling stake by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1939. However, the Pennsy continued to give the N&W nominal independence in the sense that they kept building their own engines and rolling stock. This continued until the N&W was completely absorbed in 1977.
Later on the the early 1950s, three M class 4-8-0s were still running the branch line from Abingdon, VA to West Jefferson, NC. The PRR decided this line was not profitable enough and made plans to abandon it. But O. Winston Link led a group that agreed to run the branch as a tourist railroad. So it was arranged, in 1958, the PRR had a train full of passengers on the former N&W to Abingdon, VA. Where 4-8-0 382 hauled the first train of the Virginia Creeper Scenic railroad.
Passenger trains are hauled using PRR and N&W passenger equipment that has since been replaced by their original railroads. Freight equipment is also present for photo charters, mainly from the PRR, N&W, SOU, and AT&SF.
The railroad operates between mid-April and early November with two trains (one in each direction) departing each morning from Abingdon or West Jefferson. Both trains are timed to meet at Damascus, VA for a lunch stop. Which often serves Southern cuisine like Fried Chicken, though Italian and Chinese dishes are also available at times. Afterwards, passengers continue with their train to it's destination or switch trains to return to their original terminal. Through riders are returned to their starting place by bus after the train arrives at it's destination.
In addition, there also various special trains during the seasons like dinner trains. Or a special Fourth of July excursion where all three steamers are decorated with US-themed trim and each pull at least two round-trip excursions, with lunch served on board.
The railroad mainly operates three steam engines, 382, 396, and 429. All three of which are M class 4-8-0s which originally operated on the branch line when the N&W owned it. In addition, the railroad operates a pair of former Santa Fe GP50s, renumbered by them as 14 and 77, albeit with the original bluebonnet livery. These diesels typically serve as back up when one of the steamers is unable to run. Though they also run normal excursions at times. The railroad has also been visited by former Southern Railway 2-8-0 630 from time to time. The coaches are mainly those from the N&W and PRR. Though there are also a few special coaches configured to allow wheelchairs and a diner that is occasionally used as a snack bar.
Werstand (Chaos TL)
Originally a small firm from Breslau (Silesia) in the telegraph business, Werstand expanded during the 19th century into the new electricity business, and most important, started building relay computers around 1900. And in 1923, they presented the first computer system (network), albeit very primitive yet - things like e-mail would come later. When the Technocracy came, they used their connections to the new regime to take out most of their competitors and forge an almost-monopoly for electronics, computers and networks, in- and outside of the German Empire. The Logos [benevolent hackers] and other critical people aren't too fond of this and retaliate by referring to the firm only as "Wersthand" ("Th" being shorthand for "Thaler", the German currency; in OTL, people would write "Wer$tand" instead).
Any one have any comment on my Virginia Creeper Railroad idea?
I actually had yet another idea for if Nintendo-Sony came to be...
1993: The SNES-CD is unveiled to the world. Super Mario World 2 and a Zelda title called The Dream Palace are launch titles.
1997: The Nintendo Playstation is released with the launch title of Super Mario Ultra, Mario Kart Ultra, Star Fox 3, and Several Third-Party titles.
2000: Nintendo and Sony's gaming division announce a merger, retaining the former company's name for marketing purposes.
2002: The Nintendo Gamecube is released. With launch titles including Super Mario Sunshine (described here) and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
2007: The Nintendo Warrior is released, with launch titles being Super Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (also on GCN), and others.
2012: The Nintendo Uz is released with Super Mario Galaxy 2 as a launch title.
2017: The Nintendo Leviathan is released.
That’s pretty cool!
Established: May 19, 1954 (as Commodore Portable Typewriter Company)
Headquarters: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
- Commodore Home Entertainment Systems (home computers)
- Commodore Business Systems (business, commercial and industrial computer systems)
- Commodore Components (components)
- Commodore Audio Development (audio components and software)
- Commodore Advanced Research (research and development)
- Fairchild Semiconductor (semiconductor manufacturing)
- Alienware Technology (gaming computers)
- Bethesda Softworks (video game development and publishing)
Commodore Technologies, one of the Canadian "Technology Gems" (along with such companies as Research in Motion, Nortel Networks, Pacific Alliance, Mitel Telecommunications, ATI Technologies, Bennett Technocraft, Dalsa Technologies and IMAX Corporation) was like so many other examples of Canadian companies, a small-scale beginning started by a hustling entrepreneur (Auschwitz survivor Jack Tramiel in this case) which swelled rapidly into something much greater than what its creator had ever originally created it to be. Beginning as a small company to repair business machines, thanks to partners Irving Gould, Mehdi Ali and Matthias Kendrick, Commodore began to manufacture typewriters in Canada in 1956, but that business shifted first as the company shifted from the production of typewriters to adding machines and then to digital calculators, beginning production of calculators at its North York, Ontario, factory in 1970. After their parts supplier, Texas Instruments, entered the market themselves with a comparable (but considerably cheaper) product in 1975, Commodore shifted production to actual computers, helped along by the company's merger with Pennsylvania-based semiconductor company MOS Technology in 1977. MOS' founder, Chuck Peddle, promptly convinced Tramiel, Gould and Kendrick to leap into the computer business, launching the Commodore PET in 1977.
The PET was a revelation, as it is widely considered to be the first all-in-one computer, and it was a huge hit in Canadian business and educational sectors and rapidly expanded its market share in the Commonwealth, United States and Europe, and the introduction of the Commodore VIC-20 in 1980 and the wildly-successful Commodore 64 in 1982 made the company into a global juggernaut, even as the infamous video game crash of 1983 wrecked a sizable portion of the consumer electronics market. The market share war of the early to mid 1980s saw Commodore sell millions of computers, but after a series of major disagreements with Gould and Kendrick, Tramiel quit his own company in March 1984. But Tramiel's replacement, Kerry Shaw, proved to be a visionary in his own right.
Commodore and rival Atari fought bitterly over the introduction of personal computers in the 1980s, but the fast-selling Commodore 64 remained on the market until 1990 and the Commodore entry, the Commodore Amiga, the company under Shaw spent massively on R&D, initially catching flak from Gould for this (though Kendrick was a staunch supporter of the company's efforts) but producing ever-better versions of the Amiga and, in 1988, introducing the Amiga 2000, which was PC-compatible and was able to use many additional components, a decision that ended up being hugely beneficial. Under Shaw Commodore's dreadful customer-service history improved dramatically, and in the midst of Nintendo's infamous 1980s developer practices, the company openly supported numerous developers of both business and game software. The company bought up British-based Sinclair Research in 1986 and, in what was seen at the time as a massive coup for the firm, Fairchild Semiconductor in 1987. Fairchild's designers, supported by the "Ten from the Heavens" young designers from the famed Computer Science Laboratories at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, developed the CAT-G and CAT-A (Commodore Advanced Technology - Graphic / Audio) separate graphics card system. Revolutionary on its launch in 1992, the CAT-G and CAT-A systems quickly became the standard by which others were judged, and the company would continue to work on both its workstations and its graphics systems for much of the rest decade.
Atari and Commodore buried their hatchet in 1993 shortly after the famous "Montreal Rendevous" in September 1992 where Atari and Sony (along with Bennett Technologies, which became Bennett Technocraft in 1998) agreed to work on the joint venture that would become the internally nearly-identical Sony Playstation and Atari Jaguar, which both hit the market in North America in November 1994, and with the Jaguar using a variant of the CAT-G, the CAT-GV1, for its graphic system (which was an advantage even against the Playstation, whose proprietary GPU was known for being powerful) the company's 1980s rivalries seemed to be in the past. Commodore abandoned the AmigaOS in 1996 after witnessing the success of Microsoft Windows 95, a decision that reduced software costs considerably, though the software division of Commodore continued to redeem themselves on multiple occasions, most of all with the AudioTechnica music player program in 1997 and supporting Corel's efforts at a second complete office software suite to rival the Microsoft Office set. Following a landmark court decision against Microsoft's software packaging by the Canadian courts in April 2000, Commodore PCs began to be delivered without the Microsoft bundles, adding the Corel OfficeSuite office software set, AudioTechnica music players and (famously) the first variants of the Mozilla Firefox open-source web browser. Many higher-end systems were delivered with Corel PaintshopPRO as well.
Such was the capabilities of the CAT-GV1 that Sony, Atari, Bennett and Commodore co-operated on the CAT-GV2 and its integration with the Sony Playstation 2 and Atari Avenger twins, introduced in 2000. Again, the CAT-GV2 was a resounding success, even as the Microsoft XBox, which launched the year after the Playstation 2 and Avenger, put a sizable dent into the sales of the Sony and Atari consoles. By 2001, Commodore's computers had shifted into the higher-end markets, taking advantage of the company's advanced electronic components, a situation added to when Commodore bought gaming-computer maker Alienware in June 2003, and re-entered the computer-on-TV market first famously created by the original VIC-20 and C64 in the early 1980s with the Commodore C256 "Avatar" in October 2005, a similar-design setup to the 1980s classics but with a specialist graphics processing system meant for use on plasma and liquid-crystal televisions. The second-generation of the Commodore Advanced Technology series, the Commodore Science of Computers Series (CSCS), came out in February 2006 with the CSCS-G1 and CSCS-A2, dramatically improving the abilities of the company's by-then core business of graphics and audio technology components for computers as well as complete computers. Kerry Shaw retired in June 2006, passing the leadership of the company to Advanced Division head Dr. Melissa Starahl and David Kendrick, Matthias' son. David Kendrick proved a competent manager and a charismatic leader for the company, while Dr. Starahl continued the Shaw-era focus on technical development. Kendrick stunned many by buying the Bethesda Studios game company in September 2006 (Shaw knew of this plan before his retirement and had no objections), a decision that initially caused waves until Bethesda's introduction of Fallout 3 in March 2008, which sold nearly 850,000 copies in its first month after release and firmly establishing Bethesda as a division of the Commodore empire. In the decade following its acquisition by Commodore, Bethesda's projects - including the Fallout series but also Heavy Rain, The Last of Us, No Man's Sky, Detroit: Become Human and Deus Ex: Human Revolution made Bethesda into a major division of the company by the end of the 2010s.
As of 2019, Commodore remains in the Waterloo, Ontario headquarters it has occupied since 1986 (the famed 'Commodore Shards') , and the company's 28,800 employees are almost entirely in Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Israel, South Africa and the United States, with the vast majority of the company's semiconductor manufacturing being in the United States and Canada, though the majority of the company's metallic components production and a lot of its chip manufacturing is done in South Africa, with virtually all of the company's games division is in Canada, the United States and Great Britain. The company sells its products all over the world but is strongest in Canada and the Commonwealth of Nations countries.
we sale Latex.
This small Anglo-American comic company began with rather humble roots. It was originally founded in 1971 near the English town of Loughborough by Nigel Fuller and his wife Sally. Planner had begun life as a political cartoonist, but eventually dropped out of the profession in favor of work as a professional comic book artist. However, his talent was first noticed when he re-illustrated several images from The Railway Series books by the Reverend W. Awdry. This was further pushed when Planner, along with several other new employers, were able to convincingly re-illustrate Herge's Adventures of Tintin books to portray its characters as living in the UK instead of Belgium.
They largely remained low beyond a handful of illustrations and translation of Franco-Belge comics until June 1987. At this point, Sally Fuller met on behalf of her husband with executives from the Japanese game publisher Nintendo. When they emerged, it was confirmed that Mario, Zelda, and other Nintendo icons would get a few comic adaptations.
This was where Nigel and his staff expanded upon the world of the Mushroom Kingdom from the Mario Bros series. His first comic with the Mario characters was when he got a job for Nintendo at the assistance of Canadian artist Monica Rupa (OTL's Deviantart user Nintendrawer). Nigel described how they created their spin on the Mushroom Kingdom, now known as Fungaria by his comics, in a 2016 interview for a compilation book of his works:
After this, he received more and more stories to create. With all the artistic liberties he wanted. For instance, when Princess Daisy was introduced in the 1989 game Super Mario Land, Tartan not only created the idea of her being Luigi’s counterpart to Peach, but also changed Peach’s color palette from pink to blue, to serve as a contrast to Daisy’s primarily orange palette. Though this change has only recently begun to be seen in other Mario mediums, this blue dress was often used interchangeably with the normal pink dress.
But soon after came their first major contribution to Mario lore was the creation of Lord Imajeen. A character based upon the Imajin character from the original Doki Doki Panic! Eventually, he proved popular enough to warrant a cast bast on the rest of those from the original game. Including his girlfriend the Dutchess Leena, his parents, and two cousins from his deceased uncle. Imajeen would have numerous adventures with the Mario Bros. before getting his own comics. Where he would face off his own cast of diverse villains, such as the apparently Irish sorceress Mara Hespera, or the monstrous Griffin Enzar among others.
Tartan was bought in 2007 by Marvel Comics. But the stories did not stop there, and they still work with IDW to create Mario and Imajeen comics. This has also led to a strong working relationship with Disney, who owns a 52% stake in Marvel comics. As Disney adapts many comics on a frequent basis. Tartan's comics left a lasting impression among the numerous people who read them. Among those being the writers for such modern cartoon classics as Butch Hartman, Craig McCracken, Alex Hirsch, Pendelton Ward, the creators of Kim Possible, Rebecca Sugar, and the writers for many of the Mario RPGs. Nintendo itself has also taken inspiration from his works. As the writers for several Legend of Zelda games like Twilight Princess and Breath of the Wild admitted to being inspired but his spins on various stories Tartan created for the Mario comics. As have the creators of games like the Fire emblem series. The team of Rare, a second party developer for Nintendo, have also stated his stories inspired some levels in their games. Critics have lauded his story telling for his strong, intertwined plots, as well as memorable characters and plenty of tragic, scary, touching, and outright funny scenes. With plenty of action, strong plots, and parodies and references strewn throughout both his story arcs and shorter comics. Ever since he first started to write comics with the Mario Characters in 1988, many who compared Shigeru Miyamoto to Walt Disney have also compared Tartan to Carl Barks, creator of the expanded Donald Duck universe.
Established: September 10, 1976
Headquarters: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
- Bennett Peripherals
- Bennett Power Systems
- Elisras (memory and storage devices)
- Insignia (televisions, monitors and viewing devices)
- Future System (computers and laptops)
- Bennett Video Game Systems (video game hardware)
- Take-Two Entertainment (game publishing)
--- Rockstar Games (division of Take-Two)
--- 2K Interactive (division of Take-Two)
- Sierra Entertainment (game publishing)
- Codemasters (game publishing)
Bennett Technocraft was founded as Bennett Computer Accessories and, as with so many other companies, expanded through the efforts of its partners - siblings Henry, Gregory and Erica Bennett, along with Henry's wife Akira Yoshimoro and Erica's husband Tyler McMillan - and the ability to create excellent products that, while like most Canadian manufactured goods tended to be on the pricier side of the spectrum (somewhat unavoidable with Canada's high currency value) but was the absolute utmost of quality.
In the case of Bennett, their history started with an unlikely source, that being the enjoyment by both Henry and Gregory of computers, and their both being purchasers of Apple I computers while both were students at university in California in the mid-1970s. Both were members of the famed Homebrew Computer Club and both were among the buyers of computers, but while both were hobbyists who made their own cases for their computers, both also realized that computers would be to most people something that people wanted to purchase and use immediately. As with Apple founders Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne, they quickly discovered the same, and the Apple II, introduced in 1977, was like it's arch rival Commodore PET and Tandy TRS-80 (the "1977 Trinity" of early personal computers) it came with a case, monitor and input devices from the factory. But as the Bennett partners knew, some would still want to customize their machines, and so when Bennett was born it was created to sell accessories and customization parts, at first just for the Apple II series (though Commodore VIC-20 parts and custom components quickly followed) and other personal electronics. By the early 1980s, however, this was a lucrative market, particularly after the arrival of the IBM PC in 1981 began the process of standardizing many elements of personal computers, a trend that many other makers (including Commodore) followed in order to expand their customer base. The highly-expandable nature of the early IBM PCs played into Bennett's hands enormously, as they were able to (and quickly did) create a wide selection of peripherals and expansion kits, as well as a 175-watt power supply unit for the IBM PC that became a massive seller due to the relative inadequacies of the factory unit.
Perhaps in a bit of unexpected foresight, when Henry and Akira were married in April 1984, and with Akira pregnant at the time, one the wedding gifts to the family was a Nintendo Famicom, relatively new to Japan at the time and still over a year from being introduced to Canada. Bennett was quick to see the possibilities in it, and when Nintendo launched the Famicom as the Nintendo Entertainment System in the fall of 1985, Bennett was one of the first third-party makers of peripherals for the new console, establishing themselves in the market. Nintendo's problems with customer service, however, ended up driving a wedge between them and Bennett (a not uncommon occurence in the late 1980s), resulting in the company creating relationships with Sega in an attempt to expand their business. At the same time, the company's computer business grew into making newer graphics cards, monitors and even lineups of new keyboards and the company's SoundCore headphones, introduced in 1989. But much, much more was to come....
The early 1990s saw Nintendo and Sony team up for a new video game console based on the Super NES, introduced in 1991. But contractual and business disagreements broke up that relationship in 1992, and Sony elected to go it alone, asking for help from multiple developers and peripherals makers - including Bennett - for involvement. Bennett then arranged for the famous 'Montreal Rendevous' between Atari (who had begun development on the Jaguar) and Sony, resulting in the company being instrumental in the alliance between the Japanese electronics behemoth and the American games company that produced the Sony PlayStation. Bennett, unsurprisingly, was one of the companies licensed to make peripherals for both platforms, but it was when Sony contacted Bennett about the making of PlayStation games in 1997 that Bennett's reach expanded dramatically. Sony was strapped for capacity for producing games, and on June 16, 1997, Bennett began producing PlayStation games at a new factory in Stoney Creek, Ontario. The following year, following allegations of financial impropriety on the parent of management, Bennett's software division acquired Take-Two Entertainment, namely for the company's growing list of titles and deal with SCEA for American PlayStation games - but one portion of the acquisition, Rockstar Games, became the jewel of the acquisition and a major source of profit for Bennett. Reflecting the growth of game production and it's new acquisitions, Bennett changed its name to Bennett Technocraft in Spetember 1998.
The company's relationship with Sony, Atari, Commodore and Sony's other North American divisions gave them no shortage of work, and the introduction of the PlayStation 2 and Atari Avenger in 2000 made sure gamers had a new system and the company had many new opportunities for business. 2001 saw the company introduce it's own complete computers under the company's Future System in house brand, and the following year it's own LED-based monitors hit stores, and while the company's huge graphics card business faced stiff competition the firm held its own. The Future System computers were a success (though not as much as the rivals from Commodore-owned Alienware and Republic of Gamers) and the company was by 2003 the second largest producer of PlayStation games after Sony itself, while the Take-Two subsidiary and it's divisions (most of all Rockstar Games, but also 2K Sports) added to their name, and the company's faith in the game industry was such that Bennett bought legendary American studio Sierra Entertainment and British studio Codemasters in 2005, in both cases aiming for ownership of major franchises to rival Activision and Electronic Arts. (Bennett's success here is widely considered to by why both Commodore and Research in Motion entered the video game world.)
Bennett today remains headquartered in its Mississauga, Ontario, with its 18,000 employees almost entirely in Canada, the United States and Great Britain, and the company is the single largest producer of third-party peripheral products for the Sony and Atari video games systems, and the company's products are available worldwide.
Miner Bun Engine Company (often referred to as "Miner Bun Engine" or "M.B. Engine" for short, trades on the NYSE as "MBE")
Renowned international manufacturer of internal combustion engines for use in automobiles, ships, and aircraft. Founded in New York City in the early 20th century by U.S. inventor Benjamin E. "Ben" Llava III and European immigrant Punditt Gott-Armour. The company was named after miners, whom Llava admired. After the company took off, its success made Llava a household name in the U.S. with one historian saying that "Miner Bun Engine made Ben E. Llava."
Recently, M.B. Engine has been expanding into the battery-powered electric motor sector through their Malaysian subsidiary. MBE's battery and electric motor plants are located in Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand, with R&D facilities located in the U.S. state of California and South Korea. Its ICE engines are produced in the contiguous U.S. (primarily the Pacific Northwest, with some related parts manufactured in Mexico and Ontario, Canada).
The current CEO is from India; Llava's great-grandsons Oliver Llava and Benjamin E. Llava VI currently sit on the board of directors. The business website Inside Ed recently named it one of their "Top 15 Companies to Watch in 2019". The company is also active in philanthropy, notably helping out Catholic nuns and in recent years, the LGBTQIA community.
Personally I always preferred the idea of Nintendo and Sony sticking together for the SNES CD by revising the contract.
Fair enough, but I always thought that Atari hooking up with Sony always had great possibilities. Nintendo was always going to be able to survive and prosper on its own, and if Nintendo stays at the helm in the Sony-Nintendo deal you end up with in a decade or so with Microsoft completely owning the market for more adult games, which I'd say is less than advisable.
In my world, Atari, Commodore and Bennett make the PlayStation a better product from Day One, and it shows both in its sales and it's appeal to older gamers as opposed to Nintendo's very conservative younger market approach. Nintendo still more or less goes on as OTL and prospers in the process, but they lose the lead in the adult markets to the PlayStation, with the Sega Dreamcast and Microsoft XBox expanding the market dramatically in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The connections in the gaming world from the North Americans also result in a rather bigger games library than OTL for the PlayStation too.
Personally, my idea was that it would be sort of split between Nintendo and Sony. The former and its developers (Intelligent Systems, Rare Ltd., Retro Studios, etc) is mostly colorful and cutesy with the occasional surprising amount of depth. While sony and its direct subsidiaries (Naught Dog, etc), focus on older fans.
THE CASCADIA RAILWAY COMPANY
Founded in 2005 by Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Jeff Bezos, in partnership with Boeing and Hyundai to establish a high-speed rail service between Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Oregon. Construction of the line started in 2008 after approval from the Department of Transportation and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) after much urging from President G.W. Bush in an effort to offset the effects of the recession and stimulate the economy. The Canadian government approved the Bellingham-Vancouver portion of the line in the fall of 2009, after Cascadia Rail agreed to let Bombardier have a 10% stake in the company.
The Seattle-Portland portion of the line opened in 2015 to much fanfare, followed by the Seattle-Vancouver portion in 2018. The Portland-Eugene portion is expected to finish construction by 2020.
The line consists of the following stations:
Vancouver Pacific Central*
Vancouver Airport - YVR*
Seattle-Tacoma Airport - SEA
Portland Airport - PDX
* Due to logistics regarding customs and immigration for both the US and Canada, northbound trains only allow disembarking passengers, while southbound trains only allow boarding passengers. (i.e. Vancouver Pacific Central to YVR is not allowed, nor vice versa)
+ Expected to open in 2020
The world's leading developer of next generation computer memory and processor components, and foundation stone of Britain's IT industry dominance, Bletchley Technologies has grown from humble beginnings in the post war era to become firmly established as an national institution en par with the likes of Rolls Royce Aerospace and Turing Ltd. Despite setbacks in the form of failed lawsuits in the 60's against US rivals over patent infringement and the growth of home-grown competitors, the company has managed to overcome the all the obstacles encountered in its 69 year history and continues to thrive on the leading edge of the industry. Taking a turn away from mass market production in the late 70's to focus of the high-end and custom market, the company established the reputation and credentials it is now known for worldwide, and began the relationship with British Telecom, Turing ltd and Hut Zero (Smith and Zelkov Co. as it was named at the time) that still holds strong. As of trading's end 1/1/19, shares were valued at £150.23.
Government and military contracts have been a consistent aspect of the company's history, and in the modern era of cybercrime have only grown, both domestically and abroad. In the civilian market, the Duchess supercomputer used at the LHC in switzerland, and components for the 5G wireless network satellites are held as internationally recognised examples of the company's capabilities.
The Toronto Bus Company
Established: May 21, 1996
Headquarters: Lansdowne Village, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Who says entrepreneurs can't get into fields like transportation from scratch? Michael Danbrooke certainly never thought of that when the then 21-year-old hustler graduated from Ryerson University in April 1996 and immediately founded the Toronto Bus Company, a charter company that was meant to provide transport services for tour groups and visitors. In a city with a highly-efficient and heavily-patronized mass transit system like Toronto this may have seemed an odd decision at first, but Danbrooke didn't see it that way, as he openly said that his company's goal was to make "People want to ride buses." A spurious boast at first, but when the company began its charters in fall 1996, Danbrooke's ideas became clear, as the Toronto Bus Company's initial vehicles, Prevost LaMirage buses bought from GO Transit, had been completely redone inside and out, with flashy, local artist-designed paint jobs and leather interiors equipped with all kinds of amenities, along with hiring expert local guides and offering tours of neighborhoods and special events. Famously, each bus had a unique livery and each was named, and each of the company's drivers had their own bus, with the driver's name under the drivers window. All of the buses were also equipped with wheelchair lifts and provisions in the interior for wheelchair users, which made customers requiring such lifts very happy indeed.
The response was immediate - people who used the service loved it, and the business grew steadily in the late 1990s, gaining traction primarily among student groups, tour charters and collections of businesses who used the buses to bring in customers. Always one for the dramatic and with a love of attention seeking, Danbrooke and his company engaged in publicity moves all over the place - setting up a massive New Years Eve 1998 party at Cherry Beach park, showing off its buses at the Canadian International Auto Show and the Canadian National Exhibition, "Party Ride" events ans its "Ride The Bus" poster advertisements that turned up all over town in random places. The company in April 1999 even announced an order for its first new buses, a trio of gigantic Neoplan Jumbocruiser units, the largest buses in the world. After getting permission from the Ontario Ministry of Transport for their operation (the company jokingly commented "these things are so big they scare us" when referring to the Jumbocruisers) they became the company's rolling billboards when they were delivered in March 2000.
But the biggest PR stunt of all came after Toronto announced its bid for the 2008 Olympics in February 2000, with the company being huge supporters of the bid. When the IOC came to visit Toronto to evaluate the bid in September 2000, the company made a spectacle of parading it's then 14-strong bus fleet though the city in a noisy support of the Olympics, and the company built a loudspeaker system in the back of a pickup truck for its loud viral rallies and hired film crews to record the rallies. While the bid organizers were at first horrified by these events, the visiting delegations absolutely loved the stunts and said so publicly. While this was happening the company also acquired a recently-retired CLRV streetcar from the TTC and gave it the Toronto Bus Company treatment as well, parading it back and forth along King, Dundas, Spadina and College streets during the delegation visit. The massive 2000 Toronto bid was already a front runner, but when Toronto did win the Games, the IOC quite openly admitted that 'community participation, remarkable in its scale and enthusiasm' was a key reason Toronto's bid won out. (Toronto Olympic Committee Chairman John Bitove was quoted about this "That kid and his buses won us the Olympics, the little shit.") The events raised the profiles of the TBC and Danbrooke across Canada, and the company's business rapidly swelled after that.
The company's initial headquarters and shops in Etobicoke were by 2002 inadequate for the size of the company's fleet and inaccessible for its new streetcars, but with the headlines made with the Olympics, the TTC publicly offered the TBC the by-then closed Lansdowne Garage, provided the company paid to restore the streetcar tracks to the site for its CLRV cars. The company leapt at the opportunity, and while a portion of the site was developed into the Lansdowne Village Art and Science Community, the TBC's new digs served it's purpose perfectly, and the company's expansion in the 2000s was helped along by Lansdowne, which was massively refurbished by the company in the mid-2000s in the run up to the Olympics. To the surprise of exactly no one, the TBC put up a huge sign out front of their garage stating 'This is where the fun starts.'
The firm's policy of buying and refurbishing older buses remained in many ways, even as the wealth of the company grew to such a degree that they could (and at times did) purchase bus chassis new. The company began operating ex-TTC WheelTrans vehicles ('Accessmobiles' to the TBC) in 2006 and by the time of the Olympics in 2008, the TBC boasted a 52-strong fleet of motorcoaches, along with five Accessmobiles, the three Jumbocruisers and three CLRVs, though the company owned and was rebuilding four others at the time. And sure enough the company was right at the heart of the Games' efforts aimed at tourists.
Today, the Toronto Bus Company is a Toronto legend. They remain based at Lansdowne Garage along with their huge fleet. The company employs over 400 people in its various departments, proudly supports Toronto's arts, culture and independent business communities, has established a reward for young people making a difference in Toronto (the "Six Men" and "Six Women" awars) and has inspired a collection of imitators in Canada, the United States, Great Britain and Australia. Much has changed for the company since 1996, but quite a lot hasn't, and the company is a story many in Toronto speak of with respect, and for very good reasons....
Need some more companies folks.
How about my alternate Railroads here?
Separate names with a comma.