Some Day My Parts Will Come

Long time readers here will remember my survey of escalator status, and will also have noticed that I didn’t publish anything on the subject for quite a while.  Why?  I was keeping track, but the problem of escalators being out of service seemed to have faded to a tolerable level.

Maybe it’s a statistical blip, maybe the bad old days are back, but last week, I hit something of a “home run” for out-of-service elevating devices.

1.  Kennedy Station — Bus Platform Down to Subway Level

This escalator has been out of service since late February.  Originally, the notice claimed it would be back in operation on February 26, and this was manually changed to February 28.  As of this morning, March 12, it is still barricaded off with no sign of work in progress.  This is an important escalator because it takes people down two levels, an especially welcome situation for those of us whose knees don’t walk down stairs comfortably.

With this out of service, I walked down to the mezzanine.  Usually my only choices here are to walk down another level to the trains, or to wait for the elevator.  However …

2.  Kennedy Station — Subway Level to Mezzanine

This escalator has stopped since about the middle of last week, and was barricaded off a few days later.  At least before the barricades, it could be used as a stairway, but without it, there are lineups to use the elevator between the platform and the mezzanine level.   We’ll see how well the elevator holds up.

Once I got down to the train, I rode west to my home station of Broadview where I discovered …

3.  Broadview Station — Westbound Platform to Street Level

This elevator was stuck at the mezzanine and not going anywhere.  That annoyed several people with baby carriages, but I rode up the escalator to the mezzanine only to find …

4.  Broadview Station — Mezzanine to Street Level

This escalator has always been cantankerous, and the TTC could probably keep a pair of resident mechanics busy at this location.  The escalator was stopped.  So much for vertical accessibility in the station.  I walked up the escalator as I have done many times in the past.

Only a day later I discovered …

5.  Broadview Station — Eastbound Platform to Mezzanine

Yes, this elevator was stuck too.  A few days later it was working again.

I know that the vagaries of random events will produce this sort of situation from time to time, but there is no excuse for the situation at Kennedy where we don’t even know when the two dead escalators will return to service.  Their absence puts a serious dent in the capacity of the station.

Of course, if we take to  heart the TTC’s newfound attitude to customer complaints, we will know that it’s really our fault, the riders, and if we would only clean our feet off before riding their delicate equipment, we wouldn’t have these problems.

If anyone has horror stories of long out-of-service escalators or elevators, please let me know as I suspect that it’s worth lighting fires under the TTC on this subject again.

Update March 12 at 7:25 pm:  New signs have appeared at Kennedy announcing that both escalators will be finished their maintenance by Friday March 16th.  Meanwhile, the escalator at Broadview from the westbound platform to the mezzanine (one which usually works all the time) is under maintenance, also expected to finish Friday.  Everything else in Broadview Station is working today.

13 thoughts on “Some Day My Parts Will Come

  1. I’m off to Spain next week. As I recall from the 1990s, many of Madrid busiest metro stations had nothing but stairs. I plan to see what has changed in the older parts of the system, plus tour the new ‘miraculous’ extensions.

    If anyone out there wants to arrange a tour of a particularly afflicted TTC station (hello Kennedy and Broadview) I may be able to attend after mid-April.

    This can include an initial survey of the elevating devices and ongoing (neverending?) construction — followed by an ‘official’ visit with transit staff, commissioners, local councillors, media — whoever has an interest in improving our stations.



  2. My wife and I usually head downtown Saturdays with our 3-month old son. We bundle him up and put him in his stroller, then take a bus over to Broadview Station instead of going to Coxwell, our home station. We do this because Coxwell has no elevators, and it’s too difficult trying to carry the stroller up and down the stairs.

    Last time we went downtown, we too discovered malfunctioning elevators at Broadview, as well as stopped escalators, so we had no choice but to lug the stroller up the stairs. Fortunately, my wife and I had no problem because we each grabbed one end, but I feel bad for any moms who are caught alone in those situations, or anyone else with limited options.

    That was the first time we encountered a problem on the TTC since we started going out with our little guy a few months ago. I was hoping it was a rare exception, but it sounds like that may not be the case.


  3. Ed,

    I was in Madrid last year and used the Metro extensively, including many of the new lines and extensions. I frequently used Line 12 (MetroSur Circular) in the southern ‘suburb’ of Mostoles, as well as Line 10 to get me to the city centre. Line 12 is completely outside the city of Madrid, but from what I recall has very good ridership (no comparison to the half-empty trains on Sheppard, for example).

    If you get a chance to go to the southern ‘suburbs’, what you’ll notice is that they are almost as densely populated as central Madrid. The main streets are lined with midrise apartments and street-level retail, and all buildings are constructed right out to the lot line. This makes suburbs such as Mostoles very walkable and transit friendly. Most of my friends and family there use the Metro exclusively to get around town (not just to work and school, but for everything else too).

    I would love to see Madrid-style transit in Toronto but it’s just not realistic for reasons that I believe are quite obvious. However, let’s consider this: Madrid has approximately 50km of Metro extensions under construction for the four year period 2003-2007, as well as over 25km or LRT. What has Toronto built? Even if we go back TEN years, we’ve only built a 5.5km subway under Sheppard, one km of waterfront LRT between Spadina and Bathurst and 3km of LRT on St Clair (so far, granted). Even with St Clair completed, that will only be a combined total of around 13km. Surely we can do better than that, can’t we?

    Please Ed, keep the spotlight shining on this issue. I’m looking forward to reading about your experience in Madrid.


  4. Steve,

    I told you to check Lower Bay for those darn escalator parts! It’s a simple matter that the TTC moved the parts out of Lower Bay and now can’t remember where they put them.

    A pro-LRT guy like you riding the subway — you could be convicted of heresy for that!

    Funny how you never see an escalator or elevator at a mall or private building out of service for more than a few hours, but at the TTC hours become weeks.

    Steve: How can I live down the shame? I have to ride the subway AND the RT to get to work! Before amalgamation, I could take the King or Dundas car, and then the Carlton car over to my then-office in what is now the UofT School of Nursing. This just shows how those dastardly amalgamationists will stop at nothing to punish we loyal citizens of the old City of Toronto!


  5. Maybe there’s something in the air. Both the southernmost subway-to-mezzanine escalator, and the escalator up to the GO/YRT station [at Finch] were broken. I can’t remember if the elevator at York Mills (or maybe it was Lawrence) is still reduced to a pile of component parts.


  6. The escalator down from the mezzanine to the platform at York Mills is indeed still not open. It won’t be until JUNE.


  7. They STILL haven’t finished that thing? They started work on it when my job moved to York Mills Centre back in October ’05!

    I stand by my assumption that at any given point, at least one escalator on the TTC is busted.
    Or rather, temporarily converted to stairs.


  8. Here’s the icing on the cake. The Elevator from the mezzanine to RT, the escalator from the buses to the trains and the escalator from the trains to the mezzanine right by the elevator are all out at Kennedy station. Honestly people are using the stairs to go upstairs because pretty much all the escalators and elevators are out. It sucks. I wonder how many years people will have to walk up 4 floors to the rt?

    Steve: Yes, the escalator up to the RT has been out of service for two days. I had not noticed the elevator from the mezzanine to the RT only because I didn’t look at it today.


  9. On the other side of the list, the twin escalators at King Stn that lead from the mezzanine to Scotia Plaza have been working pretty reliably for the past couple of years. There was a period several years ago that one or both of those two escalators wasn’t working for months on end. This went on for at least a couple of years. One would be repaired, and within a week it would be barricaded again and when that one was finally fixed, the other one would be out for an extended period. Perhaps they got a thorough rebuild, or good quality replacement parts, but they seem to be on the reliable list now.


  10. Do they not have escalator maintenance in place? North York Centre– The Mall here has periodically one of the escalators out of commission and it is maintenace. There is always an alternative set.

    Schindler and Kone are the main ones as service contractors or does TTC just wait until they are busted?

    Steve: The TTC has the largest “fleet” of escalators in Canada, and maintains them itself. The number of maintenance staff is a function of budgetary decisions.

    Something that does happen with older escalators is that spare parts are not always easily available, or there is a lag time between recognition that a part must be replaced and the part actually arriving on site.


  11. The King escalators may be working, but the one from the mezzanine to the northbound platform makes a horrible squealing sound when it is down mode. It’s been doing that for at least three months. It must drive the staff in the collector booth crazy. It so loud you can actually hear it from outside on King Street.


  12. Why is the TTC fixing (or not fixing) their own escalators? Does anybody else do this? The TTC is supposed to be in the transportation business, perhaps they should let others maintain the escalators, companies who do it for a living. These companies could be held accountable for service failures something that obviously doesn’t happen now. At the very least the TTC should price out the options.


  13. Speaking of Broadview…any status on when they’ll finally be finished the construction? I mean, what are they doing, and what inflated hours are we paying for?

    Steve: I spoke to one of the workmen at the station a few days ago, and they hope to be finished by July. Work is now underway on the mezzanine-level passage connecting the new stairs between the subway and surface levels. This work is an external fixed-price contract. Unless there was some change in scope that could trigger a contract change claim, it’s the contractor’s job to manage costs.


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