Yesterday’s early morning train derailment near Kennedy subway station may have closed a relatively short section of the Bloor-Danforth line — but it’s a crucial section for Scarborough commuters.

Kennedy is an interchange for the subway, RT and 10 bus routes, as well as GO trains on the Stouffville line. Adding emergency shuttle buses to this can lead to some chaos, which makes it imperative the TTC has good contingency plans in place when the subway must be closed.

Still, we’ve heard many times buses simply can’t replace subway trains. We also know it’s not possible to prepare an exact response for every possible breakdown in the system.


The TTC faces ongoing criticism for its conduct during subway shutdowns, not because the response is too slow — I believe emergency protocols kick in fast and are constantly being improved, and responsible personnel work very hard — but communication with customers already en route remains weak. In too many cases people who access a station via bus, streetcar or on foot arrive on overcrowded subway platforms before they ever learn service has been disrupted.

As I reported recently, the TTC is working to beef up its methods of communicating with riders about major delays and diversions. Many Torontonians were alerted to the problem at Kennedy before they left home yesterday morning as the TTC got the word out far and wide — via radio, television and media websites, not to mention on Details were also posted on platform video monitors — in stations that have them.

I’ve heard reports the P.A. announcements were fairly understandable as transit control staff spoke clearly and even told riders at which bus bay they could catch the emergency shuttles. Still unexplained is why the TTC doesn’t permanently designate shuttle stop locations in every station — just in case.

Some riders may wish for suggestions on how to detour around service disruptions, but this is something I don’t expect the TTC to provide any time soon. One obstacle is buses may be taken from nearby routes to “replace” the subway. Official advice could backfire if too many people crowd onto suggested alternatives.

Since TTC resources are tight, why don’t we riders just help each other? Last I checked, more than one million Torontonians have signed onto Facebook — so I’ve created a group on the site called “TTC Disruptions: Coping.”

Hopefully, the subway is again running between Kennedy and Warden stations by the time you read this, but either way, join the group to exchange tips about getting around any service problems.

Ed Drass has been covering transportation issues in Toronto since 1998. He has a degree in urban studies from York University and regularly rides transit in the GTA and elsewhere.

Latest From ...