Editorial Archive

Further step in TTC modernization starts this Sunday

10/7/16 6:00 AM

This Sunday, Line 4 Sheppard joins the ranks of subways all over the world that run their trains with one operator. From London to Lisbon, Bangkok to Berlin and Montreal to Mexico City, the single-operator train is the new normal.

Beginning on Oct. 9 on Line 4 and then moving to Line 1 Yonge-University, once our new signalling system is in place, one-person train operation (OPTO) is going to allow us to run the system with improved safety and efficiency.

This is in keeping with our Five-Year Corporate Plan, launched in 2013, and which has modernization of all aspects of TTC operations at its core.

OPTO is hardly a revolutionary concept. It’s not even revolutionary within the TTC where Line 3 Scarborough has run with one Operator with no safety-related issues since it opened in 1985.

In the past, Toronto’s current two-person crew model – one driver and one guard – was were the standard for longer trains elsewhere in the world. The additional set of eyes allowed for things like monitoring of passenger flow. But as technology has improved and evolved, so too has the way systems operate.

We would not be doing this if we thought for even a second that the safety of our passengers or our staff would be compromised. Safety remains the bedrock of TTC operations and the fact is that OPTO helps deliver a much more structured and systematic approach to managing safety.

Should Operators have to leave the cab of the train for any reason, such as investigating an emergency alarm, hand-held radios are provided to allow for communication with Transit Control. Station staff will also be on hand to assist. In fact, our new Stations Transformation Program ensures there are Customer Service Agents in stations, available to help customers at all times. 

To top it off, all of these benefits to passengers and Operators come with no job losses. Cost savings will be about $18 million once implemented on both Line 1 and 4, and will be achieved through attrition.

I am proud of the work the TTC has already done to modernize our system and of what’s still to come through initiatives, such as our stations transformation project, new signalling and the move to new fare payment options. I am also proud of our train Operators who are as capable, if not more so, than their cohorts across the world that successfully operate trains on their own.

OPTO is the next step in the evolution of modernizing Toronto’s transit system to be on par with the very best systems across the world.

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