TTC board calls Toronto’s auditor general to investigate SRT derailment

Advocacy group files complaint, sparking safety practice concerns

Sign mourning the Scarborough RT during its funeral on Aug. 23, 2023. (Courtesy of Arthur Dennyson Hamdani)  

The TTC board voted unanimously to call on Toronto’s auditor general to investigate the circumstances of the Scarborough Rapid Transit (SRT) derailment. 

The vote last Thursday comes after TTCriders, a membership-based transit advocacy group, filed a complaint to the auditor general, calling on the city to look into safety concerns regarding last year’s derailment that sent five people to the hospital. 

Filing the complaint

On April 3, TTCriders issued a complaint to Toronto’s auditor general about maintenance issues with the July 2023 Line 3 derailment. The group is concerned about whether the issues surrounding the derailment are a breach of public trust. 

“The derailment of the Scarborough RT was shocking enough,” said Krissan Veerasingam, a TTCriders board member, in the statement. 

“The fact that the TTC was warned in early 2023 about some of the contributing factors to the derailment is distressing and unacceptable.”

The organization, which primarily focused on data from four independent consultant reports that examined the SRT derailment, identified eight important questions in the complaint.

The TTC “quietly” released reports in February, according to TTCriders, which also claimed the records showed the transit agency was alerted in early 2023 regarding problems with how defects were prioritized and SRT inspection procedures.

“We think that the Scarborough RT should never have derailed and we want to make sure that a derailment never happens again on the TTC,” said Shelagh Pizey-Allen, director of TTCriders.

Transit users placed cardboard boxes painted blue to represent Line 3 in Scarborough during its funeral on Aug. 23, 2023. (Courtesy of Arthur Dennyson Hamdani)

In a statement to the Observer,  TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the “safety of our customers and our employees is the TTC’s paramount concern. We will only ever run service when it (is) safe to do so.”

According to reports from the TTC, the source of the derailment was defective bolts. In the statement, Green said that “the TTC and CEO Rick Leary pro-actively engaged the services of four independent consultants to fully investigate and assess the derailment the night it occurred. Maintenance and state of good repair are integral to ensuring safety of our system and are always kept current.”

Other advocacy groups also have concerns surrounding the derailment.

“CodeRedTO has very serious concerns about TTC transparency … the reporting that is available about maintenance and state of good repair,” said Cameron MacLeod, executive Director of CodeRedTO, an independent, volunteer-led group.

“That’s a big worry area, not just for the Scarborough RT line, but for all lines and for all of TTC equipment.” 

While CodeRedTO has not been a part of TTCrider’s complaint, they support the efforts of their campaign. 

“If we are putting all of our eggs in a rapid transit basket, then we must be able to trust the rapid transit that we build and we operate,” said MacLeod.

“If we can only trust photo ops and ribbon cuttings, and we can’t trust that the train, or streetcar, or bus will arrive on time years later, that means that our transit system is far too fragile.”

History of Line 3 

The TTC approved the SRT in 1977 to serve Scarborough’s expanding population and officially opened for operations in 1985. The line started from Kennedy station and established stations at Lawrence, Ellesmere, Midland, the Scarborough Town Centre and McCowan. 

The SRT was designed to run for 25 years but ran for 13 years past its intended lifespan. In a 2006 report, city staff warned Toronto City Council that they would need to replace the SRT vehicles due to “progressively deteriorating service reliability over the coming years.” 

In 2021, the TTC board voted to replace the SRT with express buses due to difficulty maintaining the trains and other parts of the system. The Toronto Transit Commission confirmed in June that it would decommission the line on Nov. 19, 2023.


Line 3 birth

 Scarborough Rapid Transit system officially opens.


Line 3 lifespan

The SRT was designed to run for 25 years, was due to be replaced in 2010.


Line 3 replacement

TTC board votes to replace SRT with express buses due to difficulty maintaining trains and plans to decommission the SRT as of Nov. 19, 2023.


Line 3 beyond lifespan

SRT is kept in operation 13 years past its intended lifespan.


Line 3 derailment

Line 3 experienced a train derailment four months before its decommissioning. Five people are sent to hospital.


Line 3 no more

TTC announced that it would not reopen Line 3.


On July 24, 2023,  Line 3 shut down after a derailment sent five people to the hospital. On Aug. 24, 2023, the TTC announced that it would not reopen Line 3. A replacement shuttle bus service began operating on Aug. 26, 2023, but Scarborough commuters say the new shuttle service is causing delays.

“The RT is dead,” said Chloe Tangpongprush, a volunteer with TTCriders. 

“It’s not coming back as far as we know … we’re worried that some of the issues that were present that led to this issue being missed on the RT, that that mistake can happen again on the rest of the network.”

Board decisions 

During the TTC board meeting on April 11, the board voted unanimously on a motion by Coun. Josh Matlow to put the matter in front of the city’s auditor general to probe the RT derailment.

“We’re happy that the TTC board unanimously passed a motion to ask the Auditor General to investigate the root causes of the derailment. It also says a lot about their confidence level in TTC management,” said Pizey-Allen.

“Hopefully it only encourages the Auditor General to take this complaint seriously and conduct a thorough investigation.”

About this article

Posted: Apr 16 2024 1:15 pm
Filed under: News Roads & Transit

About the Author

James Bullanoff
James Bullanoff is a third-year journalism specialist at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC). He is the Deputy News Editor at the Varsity, U of T's tri-campus newspaper. He is also featured in the Annex Gleaner.