Monday’s closure of subway line highlights needs

Monday’s closure on the Yonge subway line highlights the twin challenges of transferring thousands of riders onto shuttle buses, as well as getting information out in a clear and timely way.


Before I get started, now is a good time to acknowledge all those who work underground in the middle of the night to keep the system in good shape. TTC service will pause for a moment of silence at 11 a.m. tomorrow in honour of Antonio Almeida, who died as his tunnel work crew was ending its shift north of Eglinton station.


Reader Junior Campbell of Willowdale writes that some announcements on the Yonge subway line were cut off or garbled on Monday. He writes, “It is unacceptable that the messages are not always clear and the system has been like this for a while now.” He adds, “Why aren’t the new display screens (in subway stations) being used to update commuters about problems on the system?”


TTC chair Adam Giambrone rode the system Monday after visiting the accident site and says not enough details were given to riders, adding the TTC is launching a review of information dissemination. “We are meeting to revise our protocol on emergency announcements,” he says.


He points out the quality of on-board public address systems should improve as older subway cars are retired. The TTC is still working to have platform video monitors installed in every subway station, and he says displaying service updates and “next train” arrivals on these screens is part of a set of “new communication tools, and that’s coming.”

As for surface routes, he says the TTC will soon have displays that show how long until a bus or streetcar is to arrive at a stop. The website www.ttc.cais also set for a makeover by the fall, he says, and, over the next year and a half, riders should be able to sign up for customized e-mail alerts about service disruptions.

By late 2007, subway trains on the Bloor-Danforth line will feature automated voice announcements to tell riders the name of the next station, as the Yonge line has had for many months. He says 300 TTC buses now have automated voice and visual “next stop” announcements and, by the end of next year, most buses and all streetcars will have the service.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has made rulings on such announcements and will commence a hearing today on the TTC’s practice of alerting riders in surface vehicles about upcoming stops.