Scarborough commuters experienced a nightmare this week as an extreme cold snap led to Line 3 closure that lasted four days.
With the wind chill, temperatures reached as low as -30, and operators were forced to shut down the line, which is outside, due to technical difficulties. What nobody could have predicted was that it would last for four days.
TTC organized shuttle buses to transport RT riders along a similar route but not at the speed that riders were used to.
“I had to wait half an hour for my bus to come and line up outside when it was minus 20 because there were hundreds of other people trying to get on the bus, too,” said rider Stacey Seliotis. “I thought I was going to get frostbite.”
TTC spokesman Stuart Green attributed the technical difficulties to the snow that accompanied the temperature drop.
“All that snow that fell earlier in the week was just blowing and drifting around; of course the wind was really hard for the first few days. So it was blowing around and getting caught in the power rail. The trains can’t get through there. Once they get to a spot on the track and the power cuts out, they can’t continue on.”
Riders complained of overcrowding and lengthy waits in the freezing cold while the TTC scrambled to transport all the riders. An average of 35,000 pass through the station daily.
Huge crowds of cold, angry, tired riders lined up at bus stops outside of the station, braving the cold in the hopes of securing a seat.
Those with young children or strollers and riders in wheelchairs seemed to have the most difficult time getting on the crowded buses. Passengers piled in, blocking the ramp from unfolding at the front doors and filling up the priority seating area before many could even get out of the station.
A young mother with a stroller was among the few waiting inside the station, unable to queue up outside with her child because of the severe weather. Three buses filled up before she was able to get on.
“It’s certainly not ideal,” said the TTC’s Green. “That’s why we spent three days practically 24/7 having people out there manually clearing out that snow and get service back on. No one wants to be outside in that weather, including our employees.”
Some riders, however, did not feel that enough was done during the shutdown.
Neil Price, rider and former TTC driver, said he’s never seen the station so chaotic.
“They were absolutely brutal. The shuttle buses were a joke. They doubled my commute time,” he said. “There were few supervisors on site to direct people.”
Green said that, regardless of TTC staff’s efforts, Line 3 Scarborough remains subject to weather conditions due to its outdoor location. That circumstance led many riders to wonder why steps haven’t been taken to update the line so that service can run effectively throughout the winter.
“This is not the first winter we’ve ever had. We live in Canada,” said TTC rider Bina Mahatma. “So why are they never prepared?”