Toronto’s subways to go 24 hours … eventually

Editor’s note: The publisher has removed the identity of one of the people quoted in this story. The publisher took the action in response to a request.

The woman wrote to the Observer expressing concern that potential new employers would judge her based on her work in the nightclub industry.

The person, who now works in marketing, said the Observer story appears near the top of the list of results when her name is searched using Google.

The Toronto Transit Commission recently made an announcement that could actually save people money for a change.

The TTC has revealed plans to have subway service run 24 hours a day, an increase from the current 6 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. schedule. But before shift workers and club-goers get too excited, the change could take a few years to implement, possibly up to 10 years, says TTC media spokesman Ben Rossman.

“It’s only a matter of time before the subway runs 24 hours,” said Rossman. “But whether it’ll be in six months or 10 years is the question.”

(Name removed) hopes the change will come sooner rather than later. (Name removed) works until three or four in the morning, as a bartender at a nightclub downtown. A switch to the 24-hour subway would save her a lot of money.

“If the subway ran 24-hours it would save me around $400 a month. Because I always end up taking a cab home from work,” she said.

And money wouldn’t be the only thing saved. According to (name removed), the proposed change could also save lives.

“I know that it would prevent drunk driving,” she said. “Sometimes people will just drive home intoxicated to save money, rather than pay for an expensive cab ride.”

With all of the benefits of a 24-hour subway, why hasn’t it been implemented sooner? And why can’t this change happen now? The answer, says Rossman, has everything to do with maintenance, which is done at night when the subway isn’t running.

“There are two solutions to this problem,” says Rossman. “We need a new signal system that will allow trains to run on one track, so maintenance can be done on the other track. The new Sheppard line already has this, but all the other tracks won’t until 2016.”

The other option, says Rossman, is shutting down the whole subway system for one weekend per month to do maintenance and running more buses to compensate.

This solution could have the subway going all night in less than six months, although Rossman admits it’s not perfect.

“It would be inconvenient, but it is one way to solve the maintenance problem,” Rossman said.

“We’re hoping that by the end of the year we’ll have a solution.”

The TTC estimates the cost of switching to the 24-hour system at $150 million.