Rocket Talk: Subway Service Delays
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Rocket Talk: Subway Service Delays

Have questions about the TTC? Rocket Talk is a column featuring the TTC’s answers to Torontoist readers’ questions. Submit your questions to [email protected]!

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Reader Fraser Abe asks:

Why does a power problem at Davisville shut down pretty much the entire Yonge line?

TTC Director of Communications Brad Ross says:

On Tuesday afternoon we had two problems on the Yonge line—one at Davisville Station at 5:24, the other at Bloor Station at 5:34. Both were unrelated to the other.

At Davisville, we had to cut power as a southbound train slightly overshot the platform, then opened its doors. When this occurs, the protocol requires us to cut power and inspect the track to ensure no one fell as a result of this error. This was done, deemed safe, and power restored about 15 minutes later.

Just as service was about to resume at Davisville, the Transit Control Centre lost its ability to detect the switches at Bloor Station. If we are unable to see switches from our control centre, we cannot operate trains through the area. We dispatched crews, made temporary fixes, and resumed service at 6:04 p.m., though slowly, as crews at track level were on site to ensure trains took the switches safely.

Because the second problem occurred at Bloor, the only two locations where we can “turn back” service while we attend to the problem is at Eglinton and Union stations. While the delay was only 30 minutes, the domino effect across the entire line was substantial, especially at the height of rush hour. It takes a good 30 to 45 minutes beyond the initial delay to get back to normal service levels.

So, what is the TTC doing about this? As some of you may know, we are in the midst of replacing the entire signal system on the Yonge-University-Spadina line. As we do this work, we’re also installing three additional double cross-overs—special track work—at College, St. Clair, and King stations. This will allow us to minimize the impact on service during an emergency. Rather than having to turn back at Eglinton and Union stations, as was the case on Tuesday, we will be able to use either King, College, or St. Clair as terminal stations, depending on where the emergency is, significantly lessening the inconvenience and overall impact to customers.

Delays of any kind are frustrating for people; delays at rush hour, when all you want to do is get home, are doubly frustrating. I’m hopeful this explanation gives you some sense of what occurred and where, and what we’re doing to improve the system. Improvements to any transit system of the nature occurring at the TTC do take time, whether it’s infrastructure/nuts-and-bolts kinds of improvements, or culture change around customer service. Having said all that, please accept our apologies for yesterday’s disruption.