TTC streetcars cold

TTC streetcar problems continue through brutal cold snap

Another cold snap, possibly the worst one yet this season, is coming for Toronto – and the TTC is well aware. 

The public transit agency has been taking measures ahead of Friday's forecasted deep freeze to mitigate the effects of extreme winter weather on its older streetcars; some of which have been on the road for 40 years now.

"Our mechanics have been doing heroic work to get any streetcars that are failing back in service," says TTC spokesperson Stuart Green. "We're operating at a high level for where we're at in terms of extreme cold weather."

Green says that, on average, 20-30 cars have been down every morning for the past few weeks. Today it was 24.

Mechanics are able to get most of the cars up and running throughout the day, but the fact remains that 35-40 year old vehicles simply can't cope well in this kind of cold.

Last Thursday, an entire third of the city's 150 remaining "legacy streetcars" were unable to leave the yard after temperatures dropped to just -22 C.

Should this happen again tomorrow, riders can rest assured that shuttle busses – about 50 of them – are already running along the 505 Dundas and 506 Carlton routes to supplement streetcar service. 

"A few weeks ago we put into place a new extreme cold weather protocol," says Green, noting that the TTC constantly monitors weather conditions and forecasts.

"When we are able to anticipate that the older streetcars might fail, we can put all of our streetcars that are available on the busiest routes like King, Queen and St. Clair," he says. "Service wise, people on those routes shouldn't’t see too much of a change."

The situation isn't ideal, according to Green, as streetcars carry more people than buses – two times as many people in some cases.

Still, hybrid service and hard-working mechanics are all we have until Bombardier gives Toronto the more than 85 new streetcars it was supposed to have delivered by now.

"All of this goes back to the fact that we don't have enough low floor streetcars," says Green. "We've had these old cars in service longer than we'd wanted to or had anticipated."

"It's not where we want to be, but it's where we are."

Lead photo by

Lan Phantastic


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