Transit

What really causes TTC subway delays in Toronto?

Transit

What really causes TTC subway delays in Toronto?

We’ve all been there. Standing on the subway platform, looking through the tunnel for that big, bright light to show up. Then you hear the dreaded PA system come on, and the monotone, computerized voice says that there’s a delay. Now you want to rip your hair out. It’s too cold to walk the rest of the way to work, so it’s either you wait it out or jump back on the Rocketman app to find another route. 

Annoying, we know. And we know you don’t want to hear this, but there are actually some pretty real reasons why subways in Toronto get delayed. Some are serious, others deserve a bit of an eye roll, but all of them contribute to you waiting longer than you usually would. 

8 reasons why subway trains in Toronto get delayed 

OK, give us a chance to explain what’s really happening when there are delays on TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) subways. We know you’re trying to get to work or home or to see your friends who are waiting for you on the patio but take a deep breath. Stuff happens, and TTC workers are the ones who have to deal with it. Check out the most common delays below paired with TTC data analyzed by CBC News

1. Passenger emergencies 

No, the person not giving up their seat for an elderly lady is not an emergency; that person is just rude. But someone passing out, getting sick, or experiencing a major medical crisis, like a seizure, is a real emergency. Situations like these are the most common causes of subway delays, with passenger emergencies accounting for 485 subway outages and 76 hours of lost service each year. The silver lining to this is that TTC workers usually resolve these problems within five minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 485 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 76 hours

Average service disruption time: 5 minutes

2. Doors get stuck or blocked 

Not trying to be Captain Obvious here, but there are signs that tell you not to block the door because the train can’t move if the door is open. Pretty logical stuff, but on packed trains during rush hour, it can get a bit tricky if you’re the last one in, especially if you forgot to take off your backpack before sprinting for the closing doors. Regardless, blocked doors accounted for 226 outages each year, with 27 hours of lost service. TTC workers were usually able to attend to the problem within ten minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 226 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 27 hours

Average service disruption time: 10 minutes

3. Disorderly or drunk passengers 

Maybe that person who didn’t give up their seat for that elderly lady really got under your skin. You make a comment about it, and they talk back, and now you’re in a full-blown argument. We know you meant well, but the argument can be seen as disorderly and cause the train to stop. But those really aren’t the situations this point is referring to. More often than not, it’s drunk passengers on a Friday night who can’t help but be belligerent because they think it’s cool. That’s the kind of behaviour that contributes to 222 yearly outages with 30 hours of lost service that usually gets corrected in about 11 minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 222 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 30 hours

Average service disruption time: 11 minutes

4. Fire or smoke on the track 

Don’t ask us how, but one of the main reasons that fires occur on subway tracks is because of cigarette butts. Last we checked, you’re not supposed to be smoking anywhere inside a subway station, but there’s always someone who wants to defy the rules. Newspapers and trash also contributed to a year of 177 delays and 61 hours of service lost. And delays caused by fire or smoke usually take a longer time to address, probably because the problem is on the track itself, which would require a bit more caution by TTC workers. The average time to address this issue is 21 minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 177 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 61 hours

Average service disruption time: 21 minutes

5. Unauthorized people at the track level 

Jumping on the subway track is extremely dangerous and causes major delays for everyone else with enough common sense to know how ridiculous it is. But we can’t control everyone, so those of us who obey the rules have to endure the 92 outages and 23 hours of service lost each year because of the folly of a few. TTC workers need to make sure the track is clear before the subway can operate again, so these outages last about 19 minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 92 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 23 hours

Average service disruption time: 19 minutes

6. Other security threats

This is a fairly broad description that can encompass a lot of things. It can be something super serious like someone carrying a weapon. It can also be something that isn’t happening directly on the subway, but because the TTC takes the safety of its passengers seriously, they choose to shut down for a bit just to be sure. Regardless, these types of disruptions contribute to 87 outages with 13 hours of lost service each year. The issue is usually handled in an average of 13 minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 87 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 13 hours

Average service disruption time: 13 minutes

7. A passenger is assaulted 

Our commutes would be so much easier if everyone just got along. But sometimes tensions run high and people lose their cool. While that’s never an excuse to physically assault anyone, the reality is that it happens. And when it does, it’s a problem that TTC workers need to address right away. No one wants to see someone get hurt, so if you do happen to see an assault taking place, be sure to press the emergency alarm. It’s the long, yellow light above the windows of the train. Passenger assaults account for 52 delays and nine hours of lost service each year. The issue gets resolved in an average of 14 minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 52 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 9 hours

Average service disruption time: 14 minutes

8. Transit hitting passengers 

As you can imagine, this causes the longest delay of any of the disruptions. It takes TTC workers an average of 67 minutes to begin operating again. Nowadays,  the TTC now has full-time paramedics on call during the week to make sure they can manage these situations and get the subway moving again. Still, there are about 25 instances of transit hitting passengers each year that lead to about 27 hours of disruption.

Number of TTC subway delays: 25 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 2 hours

Average service disruption time: 67 minutes

Do your part to make your commute with the TTC safe 

Even if you just skimmed through this article, you’ll notice that people are the main cause of most of the disruptions that lead to delays. That means if you try to be the best version of yourself during your commute, you’re helping to make everyone else’s ride safe and free from most delays. We know it’s a lot to ask first thing in the morning, especially if you’re running on no coffee, but do your best. Put on some headphones and try to stay cool. You’ll be at your destination (safely) before you know it. 

Get notified of transit service interruptions and alerts

Stay ahead of your commute by using Rocketman for real-time transit alerts, arrival times and our new crowdedness feature to avoid busy times on your journey.

We’ve all been there. Standing on the subway platform, looking through the tunnel for that big, bright light to show up. Then you hear the dreaded PA system come on, and the monotone, computerized voice says that there’s a delay. Now you want to rip your hair out. It’s too cold to walk the rest of the way to work, so it’s either you wait it out or jump back on the Rocketman app to find another route. 

Annoying, we know. And we know you don’t want to hear this, but there are actually some pretty real reasons why subways in Toronto get delayed. Some are serious, others deserve a bit of an eye roll, but all of them contribute to you waiting longer than you usually would. 

8 reasons why subway trains in Toronto get delayed 

OK, give us a chance to explain what’s really happening when there are delays on TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) subways. We know you’re trying to get to work or home or to see your friends who are waiting for you on the patio but take a deep breath. Stuff happens, and TTC workers are the ones who have to deal with it. Check out the most common delays below paired with TTC data analyzed by CBC News

1. Passenger emergencies 

No, the person not giving up their seat for an elderly lady is not an emergency; that person is just rude. But someone passing out, getting sick, or experiencing a major medical crisis, like a seizure, is a real emergency. Situations like these are the most common causes of subway delays, with passenger emergencies accounting for 485 subway outages and 76 hours of lost service each year. The silver lining to this is that TTC workers usually resolve these problems within five minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 485 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 76 hours

Average service disruption time: 5 minutes

2. Doors get stuck or blocked 

Not trying to be Captain Obvious here, but there are signs that tell you not to block the door because the train can’t move if the door is open. Pretty logical stuff, but on packed trains during rush hour, it can get a bit tricky if you’re the last one in, especially if you forgot to take off your backpack before sprinting for the closing doors. Regardless, blocked doors accounted for 226 outages each year, with 27 hours of lost service. TTC workers were usually able to attend to the problem within ten minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 226 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 27 hours

Average service disruption time: 10 minutes

3. Disorderly or drunk passengers 

Maybe that person who didn’t give up their seat for that elderly lady really got under your skin. You make a comment about it, and they talk back, and now you’re in a full-blown argument. We know you meant well, but the argument can be seen as disorderly and cause the train to stop. But those really aren’t the situations this point is referring to. More often than not, it’s drunk passengers on a Friday night who can’t help but be belligerent because they think it’s cool. That’s the kind of behaviour that contributes to 222 yearly outages with 30 hours of lost service that usually gets corrected in about 11 minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 222 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 30 hours

Average service disruption time: 11 minutes

4. Fire or smoke on the track 

Don’t ask us how, but one of the main reasons that fires occur on subway tracks is because of cigarette butts. Last we checked, you’re not supposed to be smoking anywhere inside a subway station, but there’s always someone who wants to defy the rules. Newspapers and trash also contributed to a year of 177 delays and 61 hours of service lost. And delays caused by fire or smoke usually take a longer time to address, probably because the problem is on the track itself, which would require a bit more caution by TTC workers. The average time to address this issue is 21 minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 177 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 61 hours

Average service disruption time: 21 minutes

5. Unauthorized people at the track level 

Jumping on the subway track is extremely dangerous and causes major delays for everyone else with enough common sense to know how ridiculous it is. But we can’t control everyone, so those of us who obey the rules have to endure the 92 outages and 23 hours of service lost each year because of the folly of a few. TTC workers need to make sure the track is clear before the subway can operate again, so these outages last about 19 minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 92 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 23 hours

Average service disruption time: 19 minutes

6. Other security threats

This is a fairly broad description that can encompass a lot of things. It can be something super serious like someone carrying a weapon. It can also be something that isn’t happening directly on the subway, but because the TTC takes the safety of its passengers seriously, they choose to shut down for a bit just to be sure. Regardless, these types of disruptions contribute to 87 outages with 13 hours of lost service each year. The issue is usually handled in an average of 13 minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 87 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 13 hours

Average service disruption time: 13 minutes

7. A passenger is assaulted 

Our commutes would be so much easier if everyone just got along. But sometimes tensions run high and people lose their cool. While that’s never an excuse to physically assault anyone, the reality is that it happens. And when it does, it’s a problem that TTC workers need to address right away. No one wants to see someone get hurt, so if you do happen to see an assault taking place, be sure to press the emergency alarm. It’s the long, yellow light above the windows of the train. Passenger assaults account for 52 delays and nine hours of lost service each year. The issue gets resolved in an average of 14 minutes. 

Number of TTC subway delays: 52 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 9 hours

Average service disruption time: 14 minutes

8. Transit hitting passengers 

As you can imagine, this causes the longest delay of any of the disruptions. It takes TTC workers an average of 67 minutes to begin operating again. Nowadays,  the TTC now has full-time paramedics on call during the week to make sure they can manage these situations and get the subway moving again. Still, there are about 25 instances of transit hitting passengers each year that lead to about 27 hours of disruption.

Number of TTC subway delays: 25 per year on average

Total hours delayed: 2 hours

Average service disruption time: 67 minutes

Do your part to make your commute with the TTC safe 

Even if you just skimmed through this article, you’ll notice that people are the main cause of most of the disruptions that lead to delays. That means if you try to be the best version of yourself during your commute, you’re helping to make everyone else’s ride safe and free from most delays. We know it’s a lot to ask first thing in the morning, especially if you’re running on no coffee, but do your best. Put on some headphones and try to stay cool. You’ll be at your destination (safely) before you know it. 

Get notified of transit service interruptions and alerts

Stay ahead of your commute by using Rocketman for real-time transit alerts, arrival times and our new crowdedness feature to avoid busy times on your journey.

Don’t have Rocketman? Stay on top of your commute by downloading it:

Download Rocketman on the App Store
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This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

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