Why Are Subway Cars on Bloor-Danforth So Dirty?

As a regular traveller on the Bloor-Danforth subway (Line 2), I cannot help noticing how often a car will appear with a very grimy exterior. Although inside the cars look just fine, the exterior can leave much to be desired. The comparison is quite striking with the gleaming trains on Yonge-University-Spadina (Line 1).

It turns out that this problem is caused by a combination of factors including the fact that the BD trains (the T1 sets) are riveted aluminum, while the YUS trains (the newer TR sets) are welded stainless steel.

I asked the TTC about this issue, especially considering how important system cleanliness is in their attempt to present a good face to customers, and they replied:

You’re correct that some of the T1 cars are not as clean as we like.

There are a number of factors in play here.

Trains are not washed regularly through the winter when the ground temperature drops below a certain point. Every winter, it follows that the trains become less clean. We do wash trains mechanically but it is less effective.

Each summer we employ summer students to hand wash the trains using detergent and pressure washers. They can do a train or so a day. They look pretty good, but with the condition of the body and its design –  it takes time.

Chemicals used also make the aluminium more porous and so we have to be careful how much we use, or we potentially make the issue worse over time as the body will attract even more dirt.

The work is made more difficult due to the number of rivets used on the sides of the train. You can see more staining around the doors in general where the normal train wash (think of a car wash for trains) just doesn’t get into these nooks and crannies. On the TR we designed this dirt trap out by the smooth car body.

The students have started work and you’ll see a gradual improvement in the fleet. That said, progress will be slower this year as we are using them to clean also air filters on the trains’ heating system which whilst invisible to customers needs doing across the fleet and is a higher priority.

We will be targeting the worst units first, and working through the fleet on a priority basis.

[Email from Mike Palmer, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, TTC, April 19, 2016]

The T1s will be with us for many years as they are only about 15 years old. TTC has had aluminum bodied cars for decades, and I hope that they can maintain some semblance of cleanliness with this fleet.

TTC Service Changes Effective May 8, 2016

May 2016 brings the first wave of seasonal changes as attendance at universities and community colleges drops, and demand for travel to parks ramps up for the summer.

The 101 Downsview Park bus will now operate on weekdays. This was formerly a seasonal service, but the change is now permanent and it will not be reversed in the fall.

Several bus routes get new early morning trips.  Individually these are small changes, but they illustrate how the city’s work day starts well before the subway opens at 6:00 am.

After several years’ absence for construction on Queens Quay, the Sunday afternoon PCC operation will resume between Victoria Day and Labour Day weekends. One car will run as an unscheduled extra from noon until 5:00 pm on 509 Harbourfront.

Route 501 Queen will divert around water main construction on Queen Street West from May until early October via Spadina, King and Shaw both ways with a replacement shuttle bus covering the gap. Route 510 Spadina will have extra running time to allow for the expected delays caused by the 501 diversion, and the short turn service will remain scheduled to Queens Quay rather than to Charlotte to limit turning moves at King and Spadina.

There is no information yet about special provisions to assist streetcars turning, particularly to and from Spadina, such as changes to traffic signals or use of police to manage traffic. Also unknown is how the congestion this diversion will cause will interact with the King Street closure for the film festival in September.

The 97 Yonge bus will be split with overlapping services running south from York Mills and north from Lawrence, and midday service between St. Clair and Davisville will not be operated. This is intended to isolate the effects of construction at Sheppard to the north end of the route, an arrangement used previously in 2014.

2016.05.08 Service Changes