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Extreme Cold Forces TTC to Take Streetcars Out of Service

Toronto will be down 50 streetcars just in time for rush hour.

The weather is taking a toll on more than just our moods, comfort levels, and exposed skin; it’s also doing terrible things to our streetcars. The TTC is warning that because of the extremely low temperatures Toronto is seeing today, “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”—and it will indeed have taken dozens of vehicles off the streets before the afternoon rush hour. Normal rush hours see 195 streetcars in operation, but today, that number will be down by 50. The new fleet of streetcars, which will be phased in over the course of the next six years starting this August, will apparently not fall victim to the cold, as it will use electrical and hydraulic systems. Until the weather and the pneumatic air lines get warmer, the TTC will be running buses along the routes serviced by fewer than half of their allotted number of streetcars.


  • wklis

    The first generation of PCC streetcars were air-electric. The second generation of PCC streetcars were all-electric. Don’t know why the CLRV went back to air-electric. Wonder if the new Bombardier Outlook streetcars were taken out for a spin in this morning cold?

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Awesome. I have four ways to get home: three of them require a streetcar, and the fourth a 15-20 minute walk to the subway. When the TTC bought these cars did they know we get winter here?

    • tomwest

      I’d feel more sympthay for you if I didn’t have to do a 20-minute walk twice a day.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        In other words you’re used to it and this will have no impact on your day?

        • torontothegreat

          OR: It’s only a 15-20 minute walk, buttercup

    • Still_Waters3

      Chalk it up, at least in part, to provincial political interference 30 years ago, since the UTDC was looking to sell these vehicles worldwide at the time. They’ve actually held up under most winter conditions, but advanced age combined with the more extreme conditions this season are taking their toll.

    • Benny X

      In your situation it might be prudent to consider moving, even if that means downsizing your living quarters. Personally I value short travel time over living space… but everyone has their preferences I guess..

  • estta


  • CaligulaJones

    Can’t wait for the subway switches to start effing up…seriously, does anyone at the TTC own a map or a calendar?

    • Still_Waters3

      No, unlike you, they are all illiterate idiots who couldn’t get a job digging ditches, so they hired them at the TTC. /sarcasm off. Come on, how much can you realistically expect from an aging system that has been largely starved of capital investment for the last couple of decades, just when it needed it the most? The TTC is far from perfect, but let’s put the blame where it belongs — on the politicians and voters over the last 20 years who have been more focused on cutting taxes and other politically populist issues than maintaining important infrastructure.

      • Benny X

        to be fair, half the employee pool of the TTC could be eliminated with enough money saved to suffer any short term inconveniences. You want to see a system of bloat and inefficiency, one only has to look at the TTC.

        I’m not just talking manpower, I’m also talking wages that are out of line with respect to responsibilities.

        There’s a lot of responsible people in dire straits who would gladly become employed by the TTC if it meant a steady, full time job, nevermind if they were only paid minimum wage.

        The problem is bureaucracy, laziness and greed.

        I don’t really back Rob Ford, but.. he does have a point when it comes to calling ‘gravy train’.

        • bobloblawbloblawblah

          Mostly you’re talking nonsense. You think subways, buses and streetcars cost peanuts? Track repair, new signaling system, keeping all those vehicles and stations in good repair? That costs a lot of dough, slashing wages and cutting the size of the payroll will hardly cover that cost. And really? $2000 bucks a month to do one of the most stressful jobs in this city? Jaysus, you won’t keep many drivers at that wage.

          BTW, doing the ol’”I don’t back Rob Ford” but….” dodge ain’t convincing when you sound just like him.

        • Kivi Shapiro

          Please elucidate? Which positions could be eliminated, and what would the short term inconveniences be? Would there be any long term inconveniences? Why would a cash-starved TTC not have done this already?

        • torontothegreat

          I work with a lot of 3rd party companies overseas. Trust me when I tell you, ANY job can be replaced with someone making minimum wage (or less). So should we just offload every job in Canada to the lowest bidder? Stop being an anti-social a$$hole.

          Good wages are one of the most important aspects of a successful, capitalist economy.

        • OgtheDim

          Having had to hire people that are paid minimum wage, I’m not sure I would suggest that people in dire straits are qualified to become drivers of a few thousand people an hour simply by the fact that they are willing to work for minimum wage.

          Pardon me if I don’t want a bit of competition for the better people.

        • nevilleross

          I’m sorry, but taking tickets/making change/making things safe in a transit system should only be entrusted to the people who are employees of that system-in the TTC’s case, this means ex-bus drivers like George Robitaille who have been proven in their job and know what the frack they’re doing. Not some kid or person being paid nothing wages to sit on their ass who might frack up.

          If you don’t like it, I suggest that you find another city to your liking that has the automatic payment system in its transit system that you can ride on.

          I’d like to know what and who pissed in your cereal this morning for you to be talking this neocon bullshit?

      • CaligulaJones

        How much money does a switch that works in a Canadian winter really cost?

        • dsmithhfx

          I dunno. How much?

        • OgtheDim

          Ask GO, they just spent a few years getting them on their tracks…

  • rich1299

    I don’t remember any such problems happening before, at least not on this scale anyways. It seems most likely its the result of aging since surely this isn’t the coldest weather Toronto has ever had. The only time I’ve seen streetcars have any trouble in winter weather is during bad ice storms.

    • dsmithhfx

      It may cause more damage than the “current state of disrepair” budget line item can cover.

    • wklis

      The subway trains have the same problem. Both subway trains AND streetcars are stored outside. Buses are stored in garages. Subways can also be stored in the tunnel side tracks, while not so with streetcars (the tunnel under Bay Street north of Queens Quay is out of service).

    • Benny X

      the problem is that society has turned into a bunch of pussies and expects the government to step in where civilians are too lazy to, using ‘we pay taxes!’ as an excuse to do nothing.

      back in the old days, an ice storm happened… how did they deal with it? Calling in the army? I doubt that.

      • dsmithhfx

        “I won’t get into that, though”


  • nevilleross

    I hope that they work, and that the TTC has bought more than enough of them.