Last July, Patrick Winter of Toronto asked me if the TTC had adopted a policy of closing subway train doors more quickly.
He wrote, “I have noticed over the past several months a tendency, at the height of rush hour when the trains are packed, by the conductors to start the ‘doors are closing’ chimes before people have finished disembarking.”
In December, Judy Langfield wrote, “Sometimes I almost get stuck on the train as the doors close before I get off — let alone letting any passengers onto the train.”
Senior TTC official Paul Millett says the TTC has not changed its policy, but ridership has definitely grown across the system. Train guards are given about 15 seconds at each station, typically opening the doors for shorter periods at quiet stops and longer at busy ones.
Why not increase the allotted time at key stations like Yonge and Bloor? He replies, “If you extend it too long you’re going to develop gaps in your service.”
Millett points out the TTC tries to maintain a frequency of two minutes 30 seconds between trains during rush hour.
“We’re trying to keep things moving relatively quickly,” he says, adding, “I’ll just have to go back and check and see just how many complaints we have (from people left standing on platforms).”
The TTC knows some trains are so crowded that no one can board and has asked senior governments to help increase subway capacity on the Yonge line. As for the problem of doors closing on trains that do have available space, it seems riders are much more likely to report being bypassed by a bus or streetcar — a top complaint to TTC.
Millett says train guards are supposed to make sure the platforms are clear before leaving, but also to keep the subway moving. Managers will ride along with employees who generate too many complaints from passengers being caught in doors, and they also note when crews wait too long in stations, affecting train frequency.
Asks Millett, “Do you slow the service down to load more people on — and reduce your capacity? It’s a saw-off — a chicken or egg sort of question.”
Riders can report incidents via ttc.ca or at 416-393-3030. I would also urge the TTC to investigate further — as well as consult closely with train staff. There might be a creative way to get more people on board without taking too much time.
How can riders help? First, by leaving lots of space for those exiting trains. And consider heeding the call to “use all available doors” — even if it means moving further down the platform than desired.