'Unusual' series of delays led to overcrowding on subway last month: TTC report
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, February 14, 2018 7:47AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 18, 2018 9:23AM EST
The TTC says an “unusual series of delays” led to major overcrowding at Bloor-Yonge and St. George stations last month.
In a report released about the events of Jan. 30, the TTC said 16 incidents occurred over a 3.5-hour period during the morning rush hour, leaving commuters and TTC employees in disarray.
The first issue began at around 5:20 a.m. when water buildup caused signal issues near Wilson Station. Shuttle buses were ordered but cancelled before arriving.
A switch failure due to snow and ice build-up at the Wilson Yard resulted in trains leaving behind schedule.
More delays occurred due when an emergency alarm was activated and a door issue was reported on a train.
Then at around 7:23 a.m., smoke was reportedly seen emitting from a train travelling southbound from Eglinton Station. The train was moved for repairs but became disabled at Davisville Station, leading to a 20-minute delay.
"A review of protocol has taken place to reinforce that the practice of moving a train with mechanical issues in peak service is not permitted," the TTC report read.
About an hour later, an emergency alarm was activated and passengers were offloaded at Museum Station. The incident resulted in a 21-minute delay and created a large crowd at the station.
Minutes later, two emergency alarms were activated after the TTC said a fight broke out between two customers. Overcrowding, the TTC conceded, likely contributed to the fight.
At 8:38 a.m., overcrowding was reported at St. George Station and trains began to bypass the station.
Due to the bypass, customers were redirected to Yonge-Bloor Station, which in turn became overcrowded.
Two trains were later offloaded at St. Clair and Rosedale stations and the empty trains headed to Bloor Station to alleviate crowding on the platform.
“When St. George Station became overcrowded and trains bypassed the station, the same protocol should have occurred at Bloor-Yonge Station to avoid the anticipated overcrowding that resulted,” the TTC report acknowledged.
While the TTC has protocols in place to deal with unacceptable levels of crowding, the report suggests staffing levels also created issues on the morning in question.
“The last minute absence of two employees resulted in short staffing, leaving no reaction time to redirect supervisors from other zones before the rapid build-up of customers occurred,” the report noted.
Tory releases 10-point plan to combat crowding
The day after the major delays, TTC Chair Josh Colle asked for a review on how to mitigate the “service failures” in the future.
“Yesterday’s service failures are that much more frustrating in light of all the good work that is being done by the TTC to improve subway service. It is even more frustrating for our loyal passengers who experience delays,” he wrote in a news release.
“While significant state of good repair work is happening as we speak, I believe there were many things that require further explanation from the TTC.”
Mayor John Tory also responded to the overcrowding and delays by releasing a 10-point plan to address the problems.
Initiatives in the plan included two additional subway trains being added to Line 1 during the morning rush hour, adjusted overnight maintenance schedules, proactive checks on operating equipment during inclement weather, and more staff on platforms at Yonge-Bloor and St. George stations to manage crowds.
Another initiative outlined in the plan includes bringing forward a strategy to use express buses to help ease congestion on the Yonge Line during peak times.
Earlier this week, the mayor, Colle, and Budget Chief Gary Crawford pledged $3 million in the 2018 budget to curb overcrowding on the TTC.
The TTC’s report on overcrowding will be discussed at a TTC board meeting on Thursday.