By Ryan Hanna for Skedline.com
The Toronto Transit Commission is having a tough week with this winter’s stormy weather.
Line 3 was replaced by shuttle buses on Tuesday and express buses were running as local ones. There are 50 shuttle buses running on the 501 Queen Route and other residual delays across the network on Wednesday.
These were just some of the latest in a string of incidents on the TTC caused by weather and mechanical issues. The delays come after an increase to ticket prices were announced last week, with single fares rising by $0.10, adult passes by $4.70 and student/senior passes by $5.70.
The bitter cold will keep its grip on the city the rest of the week with Thursday bringing wind gusts of up to 50 km/h with a wind chill of -31°C in the morning and -23°C in the afternoon. When the weather becomes this cold, it can cause delays with the older vehicles and equipment that the agency uses.
TTC spokesperson Hayley Waldman says there is a cold weather plan for the transit system.
In colder weather older streetcars are sometimes unable to run, causing the TTC to replace them on some routes with buses. To help mitigate this impact, they try to store as many streetcars inside as possible so that they do not freeze during the night, Waldman says.
For the subway, trains are sometimes stored inside stations so that they don’t have to travel as far in the morning and switches are defrosted with a switch heater, but need to be manually warmed up if it gets cold enough. The transit agency also has storm trains that periodically run overnight in open cut areas to keep the switches from freezing, and sprays antifreeze on the third-rail to keep it from becoming frozen.
Steve Ulrich, who usually takes the 501 Queen streetcar from Park Lawn Road and Lake Shore Boulevard W., says he has some suggestions for how the TTC can improve.
“We’ve had these streetcars forever and it’s still unclear how we survive with them in the winter. It’s unacceptable that we have to wait longer to catch one and at the same time they’re telling us that fares are increasing,” he says.
One of the biggest issues he sees is not being provided with information to plan out how long it will take him to get somewhere in the case of delays, something he says the TTC consistently does not provide.
“The communications never reflect what riders need to hear west of Humber Loop even though the the TTC split the 501 into two. There’s no other transit in the Etobicoke Lakeshore area and especially when there’s delays or bus replacements, it’s not clear where the Park Lawn residents are supposed to go to catch the bus.”
Ulrich says the intersection of Queen, King and Roncesvalles is due for streetcar track reconstruction this year which. This is because the track needed to do so was not available when the construction was originally supposed to happen in 2017, reports BlogTO.