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How many TTC collisions is too many?

Posted by Derek Flack / July 4, 2014

TTC collisionTTC vehicles have been involved in over 18,000 collisions over the past five years, according to data obtained by the Toronto Star. Perhaps even more surprising is that "181 drivers have been in 10 collisions or more" over this same period. Of these total accidents, roughly three quarters were deemed "not preventable" as part of the TTC's internal review process, which involves a manager inspecting the scene of a collision. In the event that an accident is deemed "not preventable," the operator's record remains clean, which is why so many drivers with multiple collisions continue to drive their vehicles.

The TTC does remove and/or fire drivers who are deemed unsafe, but these numbers are cause for at least some concern as to the process by which accidents are classified. 10 collisions in a five year period seems like more than a case of bad luck, even when one takes into consideration the huge number of kilometres a bus or streetcar driver covers in a year of work. While TTC spokesperson Brad Ross notes that the majority of accidents are "very minor," the numbers seem to demand some form of further investigation.

What do you think? How many collisions is too many?

Photo by Jeremy Gilbert

Discussion

26 Comments

DL / July 4, 2014 at 08:38 am
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In the past day alone, i've seen three streetcars run red lights/transit lights, bus merge from bus stops barely a split second after turning on his signal and almost side-swiping a transport truck, and my favourite, a wheel-trans driver driving down the wrong side of the street barely 100m. from oncoming traffic.

But hey, give them all a raise! UNIONS FOR LIFE!
akswun / July 4, 2014 at 08:39 am
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I believe majority of the accidents are caused by idiot drivers either trying to beat the streetcar(trying to get ahead of it). As well as drivers attempting to illegally right turn in front of a bus that is picking up passengers at a corner bus bay.

Imagine having to drive Queen st. route? or even worse the Steeles Ave. East bus?
As a former TTC customer I'm in favor of the TTC drivers than impatient single passenger cars.
Dan / July 4, 2014 at 08:53 am
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I think the ttc is holding back on their numbers. Their streetcar operators are dangerous. They somehow think they have the authority to fully run red lights from one end of the intersection to the other
Potrzebie replying to a comment from DL / July 4, 2014 at 09:04 am
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"In the past day alone, i've seen three streetcars run red lights/transit lights, bus merge from bus stops barely a split second after turning on his signal and almost side-swiping a transport truck, and my favourite, a wheel-trans driver driving down the wrong side of the street barely 100m. from oncoming traffic."

Sounds like the normal cut-and-thrust of city traffic to me. You gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette.
Jeff / July 4, 2014 at 09:25 am
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I also saw a lot of these "red light runners" before but I posted about it on here and I was told that it was by design. All directions are "red" so that the street car can go through. But, the issue is that often pedestrians start to cross, etc.

I see it on Spadina going south and then turning east on Adelaide.

Or, on King heading west then north onto Spadina

I think they should change the "Transit" signal or add one in these situations.


Overall though I do see buses and street cars pushing their way through yellow lights and blocking intersections/etc where a prudent driver would/should have stopped. It sometimes feels like they think they are bigger than everyone else and can MAKE people stop. I think on the other side you get people that fail to give the right away (i.e. when they are merging back into traffic, etc).
Marc replying to a comment from DL / July 4, 2014 at 09:42 am
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If you're behind a bus, you yield to it. I believe that's actually municipal law.

But don't let that stop you from feeling super entitled and angry against the amorphous body that is "the unions".
Xavier / July 4, 2014 at 10:27 am
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~10 collisions/day seems high but when you take into account the number of vehicles on the roads and taxi drivers maybe it isn't so bad. Are some of the drivers overly aggressive? Sure. But then so are a lot cyclists. But there's got to be a limit. 10 accidents on a driver's record is pretty good indicator that someone is ready to be a fare collector
DL replying to a comment from Marc / July 4, 2014 at 10:37 am
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Mind explaining to me how an 18-wheeler doing 60 is supposed to grind to a halt a few feet from a pulled-over bus trying to merge, genius?
DL replying to a comment from Xavier / July 4, 2014 at 10:38 am
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Ah yes, the person is reckless so let's put him in charge of the money!
DL replying to a comment from Jeff / July 4, 2014 at 10:39 am
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That's fine on Spadina/St. Clair, but not on Queen. Also, they run the transit lights too.
BigDATA / July 4, 2014 at 10:48 am
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To get the full picture we need to know how many total automobile accidents happen in Toronto in a given period and then what percentage of those are with TTC vehicles.

Clearly in the picture above it would have been the Truck drivers fault NOT the Street car drivers as the street car was rear ended.
Ivy / July 4, 2014 at 10:56 am
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Saw a guy cut off a bus today taking a left turn on a red light (missed it by a foot or two) and then have the audacity to give the driver the finger when he got honked at. I've seen some not great TTC drivers but other drivers certainly leave much to be desired, as well...
chephy / July 4, 2014 at 11:01 am
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I recently came to a streetcar stop to discover an apparently normally functioning streetcar stopped on the tracks, blocking the streetcar right-of-way, and causing shuttle buses to be put in service. We asked some TTC supervisor hanging out nearby as to why, and were told that TTC was no longer allowed to conduct internal investigations of collisions -- they have to wait for the police to come. Perhaps that's to ensure that not too many collisions are written off as "not preventable". Maybe it'll help get rid of some bad drivers (though it will definitely cause a lot of delays, since the police can take their sweet time arriving at the scene).

I do feel for TTC drivers. They are under a lot of pressure to not fall behind schedule, they are operating a large cumbersome vehicle, they're sharing the road with many impatient and incompetent road users (when was the last time you saw a car in a streetcar right-of-way, or a driver mistaking a TTC signal for their left turn signal...), and I'd say most of them do their job well, given the circumstances. Still, I'm sure burnout rate is high at their job, and a few drivers get sloppy and/or aggressive, turning to intimidation tactics which is something that never ends well on the road. That's no excuse, obviously, just an attempt at an explanation.
Xavier replying to a comment from DL / July 4, 2014 at 11:37 am
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There's a union. There's no way to fire them so put them somewhere they can't hurt people
Jeff 2.0 / July 4, 2014 at 11:39 am
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I was rear ended by a street car 3 years ago. The collision was serious enough to push my trunk most of the way into my back seat. I was knocked out on impact and sent 300 ft down the street, just missing a light pole ending up on the sidewalk. I was lucky my were were straight, or I would have been sent into on coming traffic. This was a straight up case of the driver not paying attention. I was stopped at Bathurst and Davenport for a good 20-30 seconds before the collision. After an ambulance ride, 8 hours in the hospital, a month off work and 5 months of rehab I was paid out by the TTC. I was lucky, I recovered quickly and was able to drop the lawsuit.I never found out what happened to the driver, I do remember that on the report it noted he was from Barrie, being around 9PM I am guessing fatigue was an issue, long commute in + long shift = tired driver just not paying attention in a 90,000lbs machine.

I don't have the answer for the problem, just wanted to share a story of what can happen.
Garrett / July 4, 2014 at 11:48 am
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If I were to start cycling when I had every one of MY green lights, I would have become streetcar mush a dozen times over. Between the transponders that give busses/streetcars a delayed window in which to cross, and their sheer size, they definitely take advantage of the intimidation their vehicles afford.

Also...let's have a totally independent insurance investigator review every crash situation. I know if I were to have 10 accidents in that timeframe, someone would definitely penalize me, and not just sweep numbers under a rug!
Richard / July 4, 2014 at 11:51 am
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Interesting point: The "collision" image shown at the top of this story depicts a rear-ended streetcar....now how exactly would that be the TTC driver's fault if he was stuck from behind?
Marc replying to a comment from DL / July 4, 2014 at 11:56 am
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18-wheelers on city streets should not be going over 40km/h. If they're blasting down Bay St at 60-80, we've already got a problem.

Buses are part of driving in the city - you need to adapt instead of covering your eyes and ears and blaming others.

Frankly, I find it hilarious people want to replace streetcars with buses, because they can't seem to handle buses either.
Phildog / July 4, 2014 at 11:56 am
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I've worked at unionized companies and non-unionized companies. This kind of BS where bad employees cause lots of trouble and constantly get away with it happens everywhere.

Most managers would rather write someone up and let it go, rather than go through the trouble of firing them and training a new employee.
KEvin / July 4, 2014 at 12:47 pm
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About the Red Lights... TTC drivers are expected to be in a certain spot at a certain time. It would explain why they speed, run red lights, or don't bother to wait (2 seconds) for that person running to the transit stop.
UselessStreetcars / July 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm
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I am willing to bet that 17000 of those 18000 accidents involve absolutely totally useless STREETCARS, and idiot cyclists and idiot cars that try to run the streetcar doors...because some genius (NOT!!!) decided to run the streetcars down the middle of the road, and keep em that way, even when they had the opportunity to change the design (Spadina, St Clair, Harbourfront)

Streetcars should be like buses and pull up right to the curb. Should be Streetcar (preferably bus though)then bike lane to the bikes can do their usual thing and pass the stopped streetcar but at least they would be on the opposite side of people entering/exiting the streetcar. Then cars.

The current bike lane, streetcar lane, car lane system should be FLIPPED and that would prevent many an accident. And sooner rather than later, all the useless streetcar tracks and streetcars should be eliminated in favor of buses that one can easier pass and take off the road if one breaks down.

Streetcars are useless!
DL replying to a comment from Marc / July 4, 2014 at 01:32 pm
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Bay St. has a diamond lane so, for the most part, no merges. This occurred on Kennedy Ave, speed limit 60. Do you honestly think any vehicle, let alone a transport, can get up to 60 on Bay St.?
DL replying to a comment from Xavier / July 4, 2014 at 01:37 pm
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...

In charge of money. Right.

Fire their incompetent asses.
J / July 4, 2014 at 02:49 pm
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The right answer is however many is too many. Especially when the TTC is self-insured and any collision causes delays in the system. What the TTC should be doing is investigating the root causes of the accidents, even the ones where the TTC driver isn't at fault, to identify what training or proactive measures can be taken to reduce the number of collisions. The fact that 75% of accidents are categorized as "not preventable" gives the impression that this isn't the case.
realityCheck / July 4, 2014 at 06:13 pm
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Part of the reason for the increase in collisions, I believe, is due to the fact that the TTC has REDUCED the scheduled time to complete routes by up to 25% on some routes. In reality, it meant that operators had less time to complete a scheduled run.To the public, they portrayed this as a boost in service. In many cases, you cannot achieve these schedules without speeding (or leaving passengers at the curb). Most of the more senior operators, ignore the schedule because they know it is not doable. But the more junior operators, especially those on probation, are susceptible to pressure from the supervisors. I'd like to see TTC spokesperson Brad Ross address this issue... but I won't hold my breath since his job seems to me basically to be about burying or blowing off problems rather than address them. Bottom line is that the surface schedules don't make sense given today's congestion.
Shane / July 4, 2014 at 09:17 pm
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If this were a private industry Olivia would try to pass laws to force a solution. Build underground!

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