Attention all night owls: 2a.m. is no longer your curfew.
The TTC announced that GTA subways are well on their way to running round-the-clock, with night service every 20 to 30 minutes.
Howard Moscoe, TTC chairman, said maintenance issues have always been why the TTC has never had 24-hour subway service. Closing the subway at night gave crews a few hours in which to do repairs to tracks and signals.
Experiments with asbestos removal in the system last year gave new hope for a 24-hour system: The TTC closed subway service Friday night, after rush hour, and opened it again early Monday morning, giving crews an entire weekend to do repairs.
“As a result of [shutting the system down], our work force is more productive, we need fewer workers to do the same job, and it frees up the space on the line to run the service,” Moscoe said.
Instead of subway service on weekends, the TTC plans to have a parallel bus system running to keep Toronto moving. Technical innovations, however, will soon eliminate the need for a parallel bus service at all.
Moving into the future
Automated train controls, already in place on the Sheppard line and in the plans for the York University extension, will be installed on existing lines. Automated train controls make it possible to run trains going opposite directions on the same track.
“It means you can close down half the subway and do the work continuously, and that is a real bonus,” Moscoe said, adding the benefits include an increase in capacity equivalent to building a new Yonge Street line.
24 Hour Security
Moscoe believes there will be extra shifts for security, but not necessarily a need for more security with a 24-hour system. He said new security cameras in the TTC are adequate measures. “If there’s a problem, we’ll dispatch our security force,” Moscoe said.
Security officers aren’t the only ones facing a potential shift change. TTC collectors could also be drafted to the graveyard shift, something that agrees with at least some. One collector, who wishes to remain anonymous, said, “I would work [the late shift], 11 to 7. It would make my life easier.”
“I think it will affect a lot of people,” she said, noting many people need to take the subway after hours and early on weekends.
Roxanne Quail faced that challenge, attending a seminar downtown on a Sunday morning, beginning before the subway opened. She took GO transit to the seminar, but said GO service is not meant to replace TTC.
“The train dropped us off at Union Station, and luckily I was able to walk the 10 to 12 blocks to go to the seminar,” Quail said, adding that if she had been elderly or had a disability she would have been unable to walk to the seminar.
GO trains only run hourly, which left Quail with the choice of either being extremely early or late foe her seminar. If there had been subway service, timing would not have been such an issue.
While the idea of a 24 hour subway sounds easy enough, the service will not change overnight. As well as retrofitting the tracks with new technology, the TTC needs to change how it runs.
“It will mean shifting around a bit of stuff that we do, and experimenting in ways that are not traditional,” Moscoe said, “But it’s worth the effort.”