A union representing TTC workers is calling for a new policy that could temporarily halt service during some major snow events after more than 500 buses were left stranded on the roads during Monday’s storm.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 made the request in a news release issued on Tuesday afternoon.
They said that “as result of the TTC’s lack of planning” a total of 540 buses got stuck on local roads on Monday, leaving some drivers stranded for up to 10 hours.
About 300 to 400 of those buses were still stuck as of Tuesday morning, according to the TTC.
“While the TTC doesn’t control the weather, the snowstorm revealed major gaps in how the TTC deals with severe winter weather conditions,” ATU Local 113 President Marvin Alfred said in the release. “To protect workers and riders, ATU Local 113 calls on the TTC to be better prepared for snowstorms by implementing a service plan in which vehicle accumulation levels are assessed and a hazardous service level is determined. Once that level is reached, the TTC must pause service to allow road crews to plow roads so buses and streetcars can keep Torontonians moving safely.”
Monday’s storm dumped 36 centimetres of snow on the city and caused significant issues for the TTC, with service being shuttered along large stretches of both the Line 1 and 2 subway line for hours.
Service also had to be cancelled on the above-ground Scarborough RT due to the treacherous conditions.
In their release, ATU Local 113 pointed out that many of the buses that got into trouble weren’t able to negotiate hills at York Mills Road and Avenue Road, which are “known areas that are affected by poor weather conditions.”
They said that the TTC’s communications system was also “ineffective” during the storm with calls for help from some operators going unanswered.
“The TTC’s lack of a proper contingency plan that addresses impact, order and risk mitigation is concerning and unacceptable, especially for a major city like Toronto that depends on public transit,” Alfred said. “ATU Local 113 members and our riders, who depend on safe and reliable service, must be the TTC’s top priority.”
Speaking with CP24 earlier on Tuesday, TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said that a “deeper dive” will be conducted to determine what transpired on Monday but only after service is fully restored.
He said that the TTC does have winter protocols in place but with a storm as significant as Monday’s the weather can sometimes “get ahead of you.”
“I think everyone appreciates that yesterday was a record setting snow storm,” he said. “We do have winter protocols in place, a lot of them were used but sometimes the weather just gets ahead of you.”
ATU Local 113 represents approximately 12,000 TTC workers.