Today’s extreme cold is affecting Toronto Transit Commission streetcar service, with an impact to the afternoon rush hour. As the extreme cold continues, the TTC is warning that afternoon rush hour will see a shortage of 50 streetcars across the network. The TTC normally operates about 195 streetcars during peak service. During morning rush hour today, the TTC was short 48 streetcars.
The TTC is preparing to use buses to supplement streetcar routes that will see fewer than half the allotted number of cars a route ought to have.
The age of the streetcar fleet and equipment – over 30 years in many cases – does not respond well to extreme cold. Specifically, pneumatic air lines that provide braking and door operation can see moisture build up in the lines that then freeze, causing the streetcar to be taken out of service.
The new fleet of low-floor, accessible streetcars that begin service this August, and phased in over a six-year period, will not be susceptible to extreme cold as the current fleet is. They use a combination of electrical and hydraulic systems, rather than pneumatic.