Are you beginning to notice whether TTC buses are less crowded? On Feb. 17, the commission added extra service to dozens of bus routes and TTC chair Adam Giambrone says more enhancements are being planned for March, May and during the fall.
Unfortunately, streetcar lines did not get the same treatment as the bus network last week, with only three routes seeing limited increases to frequency. Giambrone says the TTC is short about 10 streetcars during peak periods — and new light rail vehicles won’t arrive for several years.
The subway network is also feeling more crowded, say readers. Tom Martin of Toronto writes about trying to board northbound Yonge trains in the early evening: “Recently I have been getting on the subway several times a week at about 6:30 p.m. at Wellesley. I often can’t even get on the subway at this hour, let alone find a seat.”
The TTC is aware of overcrowding at “the shoulders of the rush-hour periods,” replies spokesperson Mike DeToma. He says there are “tentative plans to add additional northbound service on the Yonge subway at around 6:30 p.m.” He adds, “These service increases are likely to be introduced in September; they are among a number of similar increases planned for the Yonge subway and the Bloor-Danforth subway, at the end of the morning and afternoon rush hours, in order to help reduce crowding.”
Another reader alerted me that patrons are regularly being left on the westbound platform at Lansdowne station during the morning peak — an unusual phenomenon for the Bloor line.
Giambrone admits there have been “a lot of problems over the last month and a half” on subways including significantly more delays than normal. The wintry weather has not only caused mechanical problems, especially along tracks that run outside, but he says more people switch to the TTC during inclement weather.
The entire Bloor-Danforth line has also been affected by track speed restrictions near the site of a train derailment early this month at Kennedy station. Giambrone says he was told the “slow orders” in this area were lifted last week, but transit critic Steve Munro reported Monday on his site (stevemunro.ca) that, “service at the eastern terminal of the Danforth subway has been glacial.”
We should get a full report on the Kennedy derailment at tomorrow’s TTC board meeting.
Giambrone says permanent improvements to subway frequency have also been held up due to a lack of operators. Trains “have been cancelled because there weren’t enough employees,” he tells In Transit, “and that adds to the crowding issue.”
The TTC has been hiring a lot of people, he says. “We will be in a position, probably by the beginning of April, to be able to have our service operating in an acceptable manner.”
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.