TTC To Operate Single-Track Subway Shuttle on June 4-5/22

The TTC had planned a shutdown of subway service on Line 1 Yonge-University-Spadina to permit track repairs between Wilson and Lawrence West Stations. This plan has changed to replace the usual bus shuttle with a subway shuttle because track work will only occur on the southbound side.

  • Subway trains will operate between Vaughan and Wilson Stations terminating on the southbound platform at Wilson. They will return northbound via a crossover north of the station.
  • A subway shuttle will operate between Wilson and Lawrence West Stations running on the northbound rail in each direction. The train will stop at Yorkdale Station.
  • Service northbound to Lawrence West Station will cross over via the centre track north of Glencairn Station and terminate on the southbound platform at Lawrence West.

Passengers travelling through the affected area will make across-the-platform transfers at Wilson and at Lawrence West Stations.

See the full TTC notice here.

Updated June 5, 2022 at 8:00 pm:

There has been great confusion about just what service the TTC is operating and whether there would be a subway shuttle, or simply alternating use of a single track by through service in each direction.

It is actually possible to see both versions of the TTC’s message at the same time. The main text below is the still-active notice of shuttle operation. However, a popup in the corner of the screen displays live service alerts, and this tells a different story.

The TTC has a big problem with contradictory service notices in various parts of its site because they originate from and are maintained by different groups.

7 thoughts on “TTC To Operate Single-Track Subway Shuttle on June 4-5/22

  1. Is this single track scenario a practice run for ATC? If it works here, it could be used in other scenarios so we don’t have to use shuttle buses, but a single track train.

    Steve: They are already running ATC there. The constraint for this type of shuttle is the location of crossover points where the double track services can terminate on either side of a work zone.

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  2. This is a recipe for a head-on collision especially with constantly malfunctioning TTC signal systems.

    Steve: Well, no. With only one train shuttling back and forth it would be challenging to have a head on collision.

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  3. Steve: Well, no. With only one train shuttling back and forth it would be challenging to have a head on collision.

    lolz

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  4. What the TTC said they would do, and what they actually did, were completely different things. My northbound journey yesterday morning from tacked a full HOUR on my commute. My NB train arrived on the SB platform at Lawrence West via the pocket track, and then it picked up waiting SB passengers and took them south – fine so far. We then waited upwards of 15 minutes for a train to come south on the NB track, but when it arrived, it too picked up passengers to take them south via the pocket track, leaving us waiting. About 5-10 minutes later, another train came from the north and did the same thing. All the while trains had been arriving from the south, dumping more passengers on the platform before going back the other way. The supervisors and volunteers on the platform clearly had no idea what each train would do until it arrived, they were not receiving any useful communication. (And anything they did announce was unintelligible, given the cavernous echoes at Lawrence West.) Finally another came south on the NB side, dumped its passengers and we were allowed to board. And then we waited for 10 minutes before heading back north.

    On the journey north, the driver announced repeatedly that the train would go OOS at Wilson, due to a “subway closure”, and that at Wilson we would have to take shuttle BUSES. We crawled to Wilson, stopping at Yorkdale on the way, this part took twice as long as usual. And when we got to Wilson we arrived on the NB side, had to fight our way off due to the crush of people trying to board our crowded train – it was standing room only at 8am on a Saturday – which then went south on the NB track. People swarmed an obviously frustrated and harried volunteer looking for these “shuttle buses”, the poor guy had to tell everyone there are no buses. I let him know the driver went out of his way to give that announcement, he said he’d alert the supervisor.

    We then waited for a train from the north to take us the rest of the way. First one down the SB side, bingo, picked up passengers and kept going south. And then it happened AGAIN. We were told the next one would take us north by a supervisor, only for it to go OOS on arrival and then exit the station SB. So all the volunteers, who had just been waving their NB signs now had to shoo folks off the train. Apparently, this train *was* ours, as it used the crossover south of Wilson to change tracks and come back. But this added confusion didn’t help any, people were getting punchy.

    Takeways:

    • I am guessing this plan was complicated by their intention to have trains still come south to enter service from Wilson yard, which means they did not plan other ways to have trains enter service, whether that be storing them in tunnels, using space at Davisville etc. Doubt it was a failure of ATC but even when things were clear they were s l o w.
    • Communication between Transit Control and people on the ground / TTC twitter remains two coconuts on a string at best. Supervisors, volunteers, operators all clearly had no clue what would happen next.
    • Even if it worked as intended, it is admittedly a complicated scenario to explain to customers, and for operators to do – who should not be expected to have A1 communication skills. Whether they hand out a script or not, pre-recording announcements for the trains would have solved some of the confusion.
    • Serious question: rather than this “shuttle plan”, could they not have had trains with through service to Vaughan go to single track operation on that stretch, and adjust service levels with short turns periodically as needed? Would have reduced the need for all this disembarking. In fact, that was how I read the original tweeted announcement.
    • My commute from Oakwood / Rogers to work in Vaughan typically takes me an hour on a Saturday morning. Yesterday it took two. On my way home I fled the hordes massed at Wilson and caught a Dufferin express bus and got home in 70 minutes, and was happier for it.

    Steve: Thanks for this detailed report. It is quite clear that the last-minute change from a bus shuttle to a subway shuttle was very poorly understood internally, and certainly the exact operations had not been worked out at all.

    The original announcement, which is still up on the TTC’s site, describes a subway shuttle with passengers changing trains at each end.

    There have been problems with inaccurate info and scrambled comms at TTC before, but this is a perfect example of how *not* to do it.

    I can’t help thinking that they realized sometime on Friday that they would not be able to crew enough shuttle buses, and came up with this as a quick alternative. It could have worked if only everyone were on the same page.

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  5. By June 5, the TTC appears to have dropped the shuttle. The following notice appeared on its Service Alerts page:

    Line 1: Today, trains between Wilson and Lawrence West stations will alternate use of the northbound track to accommodate work on the southbound track. Customers may experience longer than normal wait times.

    Steve: The TTC has conflicting info on its site, a situation that happens unfortunately too often. I have updated the main article.

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  6. I really like the idea of running the shuttle trains. I’m assuming this is the first time they have done this? Definitely lots of kinks to work out but if they could do this successfully and learn from mistakes made this weekend it could work on other parts of line 2 and 1 where there is cross over tracks I’m sure that will be a much better alternative then running buses in the future. The line 2 shuttle was a mess this weekend. Running buses on Danforth/Bloor is a write off with the bike lanes and sheer traffic congestion anytime of day.

    Steve: Yes, this is the first time they have attempted a shuttle train, but not the first time they have run bidirectional service on a single track. There appears to have been a major cock-up with people on the ground not knowing what was supposed to happen, and conflicting info posted both online and on posted signage.

    Three requirements for this to even be possible are not met on the BD subway. First, it does not have ATC signals with bi-directional capability. Second, the power feeds must be controllable so that power can be cut in one drection for maintenance work, but remain alive for single track operation. Third, the two tracks must be far enough apart that trains on the live side do not endanger workers on the other one.

    A key difference with single track ops is that headways on the entire route would be affected, and this could prove very difficult for riders.

    The Line 2 work on the past weekend was at Keele crossover making it impossible to run single track or shuttles even if other problems were addressed.

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