TTC says it has cut down on subway delays
The total duration of delays on the subway and Scarborough RT system has fallen by almost 40 per cent since 2014, report says.
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The subway system grinding to a halt — just as you’re in a rush to get somewhere — is a familiar frustration for regular transit users. But according to the TTC, it’s happening a lot less often than it did.
The transit agency says in the first three months of this year, the number of delays on the subway system was down 17.6 per cent compared to the same period in 2014, while the total duration of the stoppages was cut by 37.7 per cent.
In the first quarter of this year there were 4,176 delay incidents on the TTC’s three subway lines and the Scarborough RT, totalling 7,863 minutes, or almost exactly 131 hours. The average length of each delay fell from 2.49 minutes to 1.88 minutes, according to the TTC.
After a meeting of the TTC board Thursday, TTC CEO Andy Byford said the numbers are “stellar” and show that the agency is well on its way to meeting its goal of cutting delays in half by 2019.
“We’re on the glide path. We’re absolutely on target to do that,” he said. “This is reflective of the work we’ve been doing over the last five years to just relentlessly identify and mitigate and drive down the root causes of delay.”
According to Byford, the TTC has improved subway reliability by taking a proactive rather than reactive approach to maintenance. It’s also reduced the risk of debris blowing on to the tracks and starting fires by litter-picking trains when they get to the end of the line.
In late 2014 the agency launched a public awareness campaign to deter the unwarranted use of trains’ alarms, after it found that more than two-thirds of alarms were activated for non-emergency reasons, such as someone feeling ill. The agency now employs a small team of paramedics at key stations to respond quickly to anyone who is sick in order to get trains running again as fast as possible.
The TTC has also benefited from the improved performance of the newer model Rocket subway trains, which operate on Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) and Line 4 (Sheppard). The trains initially had door problems that caused delays, but according to Chief Operating Officer Mike Palmer, the mean distance they travel between failures is now 744,000 km, well above the target of 600,000 km.
“We’re approaching world-class performance on the Toronto Rocket. It is our most successful train, and we’re absolutely thrilled with its performance,” Palmer said of the Bombardier-made vehicles.
While the TTC has managed to cut down on delays attributed to failing infrastructure, crew mistakes, and faulty subway cars, some types of passenger-caused delays are actually on the rise. More than half of all stoppages are caused by customer behaviour, including people fainting, fighting, trespassing on tracks and committing suicide.
The number of minutes lost to people trespassing on tracks spiked by 280.8 per cent between 2014 and 2017.
Byford said he’s directed the TTC’s enforcement unit to crack down on trespassing, which can net offenders a $425 fine as well as a criminal mischief charge. “I want them to face the consequences of their actions. It’s selfish. It delays thousands of people, or hundreds of thousands of people, and it’s completely unacceptable,” he said.
The recent gains haven’t been evenly distributed across all lines, however. Line 1 saw the biggest reduction, with 2,898 minutes of delay in the first three months of this year, down from 4,992 in the same period in 2014. That’s a reduction of 41.9 per cent.
Delays on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) were down by a more modest 9.8 per cent. The TTC attributes the disparity to the fact that Line 1, which is older and more crowded, suffered from more delays three years ago, leaving more room for improvement.
Delay minutes on the Scarborough RT dropped by 79.2 per cent, a stat the TTC concedes is likely skewed by the fact that a particularly harsh winter wreaked havoc with the line in 2014.