Editorial Archive

How the TTC prepares and responds to winter weather

1/10/14 6:00 AM

It’s been a cold and difficult start to 2014 for TTC customers, as well for staff, as we work to get you from A to B in what is proving to be a very harsh winter.

The arctic-like conditions that descended on Toronto last week – and at the start of this week – negatively affected many city operations. The TTC was no exception.

Of course, this is Canada, so wedo take measures to keep transit moving in winter. On the subway and Scarborough RT, we de-ice the power rail when snow or ice is forecast. We also store subway trains in tunnels overnight to prevent doors and other equipment from freezing. On streetcars, special sliders and cutters are fitted onto the trolley poles to help remove ice from the overhead wires. We also deploy additional response staff to key locations to deal with problems that are bound to arise.

The biggest challenge has been the age of our streetcar fleet and its equipment. Most vehicles are over 30 years old. The specific vulnerability under extreme cold is the pneumatic air lines that provide braking and door operation. Moisture can build in the lines that then freeze, causing the car to be taken out of service.

In response, we supplemented service with buses wherever possible. The prolonged extreme cold temperatures are unusual for Toronto and it has taken its toll on the streetcar fleet. The new streetcars, I am happy to report, will not be as susceptible to the cold as the current fleet is. They begin to enter service over a six-year period starting in August.

Thank you for your patience this week. We may not have always succeeded, and no doubt we left some of you cold and frustrated, but we have done our darndest to keep Toronto moving – and will continue to do so.

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