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Extreme cold affects TTC streetcars again

Update — Wednesday, January 14 2:30 p.m.: Streetcars resume service along the 511 Bathurst route during afternoon’s rush hour. Buses continue to operate along the 502 Downtowner and 503 Kingston Rd routes.

The TTC has advised that today’s extreme cold weather is again impacting streetcar service during this afternoon’s rush hour. Twenty-eight streetcars can’t go into service this afternoon due to extreme cold, so buses will replace cars operating along the 502 Downtowner, 503 Kingston Rd and 511 Bathurst routes. With the City of Toronto extending its extreme cold-weather alert, the streetcar shortage will likely continue tomorrow, Wednesday, January 14, morning.

Replacing the streetcars with buses along these three routes frees up streetcars to drop off or pick up passengers along the TTC’s busier car routes. The TTC will use even more buses to supplement streetcar service along other routes, where necessary. (It normally operates about 200 streetcars during afternoon rush hours.)

Even with buses replacing streetcars, the TTC warns passengers that commutes this afternoon and tomorrow morning will require more time than usual. It’s encouraging passengers to use to learn when their next streetcar or bus is due to arrive at their stop. Streetcar passengers may also text message the multi-digit car-stop number that appears on the stop to the 6-digit short code, 898882 (TXTTTC), to find out when the next streetcar — or bus — arrives.

(And Transit Toronto notes that bus passengers shouldn’t feel smug about being spared from these delays: the TTC doesn’t have that many extra buses just lying around in rush hours. If it uses buses to replace streetcars, chances are that its ‘borrowing’ one or more buses from your route. That means that everyone may experience less frequent service today.)

The aging streetcar fleet and related equipment — older than 30 years in many cases — do not respond well to extreme cold. Moisture that builds up in the pneumatic air lines, which provide braking and operate doors, can freeze, requiring the TTC to take a streetcar out of service. The TTC says that crews will work overnight to prepare morning’s service, and buses will be on standby.