Editorial Archive

Reliability of TTC subway service will improve as signal systems are upgraded

3/21/14 6:00 AM

As customers on Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) are all too aware, the last few weeks have been punctuated by a series of delays – mainly due to signal problems, and often during peak hours.

With its 60th anniversary fast approaching, the original stretch of the Yonge subway line from Union to Eglinton stations is showing its age. Track, signals and other critical parts of our infrastructure are still safe, but much of it is past its design life and becoming increasingly unreliable. This vulnerability, coupled with the mounting pressure of ever-growing customer numbers, means that the slightest problem soon translates into a major delay that affects tens of thousands of you.

For this reason, we locate response teams at strategic positions along the line so that, when trouble strikes, our experts can immediately intervene to minimize delay. We also carry out proactive maintenance of critical equipment to minimize the likelihood of failure in the first place.

Ultimately, complete renewal of some critical equipment is required to bring the subway system up to modern standards and to give customers a reliable journey. New trains are a start, but it is the replacement of our signalling system and worn out track that will really improve performance and add much-needed capacity.

Our signalling system is being upgraded in phases over the next four years, but customers will see improvements sooner as the new equipment comes on-stream. This is not easy to achieve, as we only get a few hours per night and occasional weekend closures to do the work, but this is critical to making things run more smoothly. There is a closure this weekend (Bloor-Yonge to St Andrew) to do some of this work. I encourage you to watch the video we produced and posted on our official YouTube channel (youtube.com/officialttcchannel) that explains what we’re doing and what the benefits will be when completed.

In the meantime, we will continue to do everything possible to keep old equipment operating reliably. We’ll also keep you informed when things do go wrong and explain why.

Finally, there is a lesson here from the London Underground. The Tube was similarly plagued by unreliability only a few years ago. Service reliability has now vastly improved, delivered by sustained, targeted investment. I am determined that we must follow that example if we are to make our subway fit for the next 60 years.

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