Toronto Transit Commission

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Toronto Transit Commission
Montage of TTC.jpg
Owner City of Toronto
Locale Toronto, parts of the GTA (may incur extra fare)
Transit type Bus, rapid transit, streetcar
Number of lines 149+ bus routes, 4 rapid transit lines, 11 streetcar routes
Number of stations 69
Daily ridership 2.65 million [1]
Chief executive Andy Byford
Headquarters William McBrien Building
1900 Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Began operation 1921
Number of vehicles 1,851 buses, 652 rapid transit cars, 248 streetcars, 129 Wheel-Trans buses
Track gauge 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) Toronto gauge
Average speed Subway/RT: 65-70kph Streetcar: 55kph Bus: 50-60kph
Top speed Subway/RT/Streetcar: 85kph Bus: 100kph

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is a public transport agency that operates transit bus, streetcar, paratransit, and rapid transit services in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Established in 1921, the TTC comprises four rapid transit lines with 69 stations, over 149 bus routes, and 11 streetcar lines, of which 148 routes make 243 connections with a rapid transit station during weekday rush hours.

The TTC operates the third-most heavily used urban mass transit system in North America, after the New York City Transit Authority and Mexico City Metro.[2] In 4th quarter 2012, the average daily ridership was 2.76 million passengers: 1,425,300 by bus, 271,100 by streetcar, 46,400 by intermediate rail, and 1,011,700 by subway.[1] The projected 2013 ridership is 528 million riders.[3] The TTC also provides door-to-door services for persons with physical disabilities known as Wheel-Trans; in 4th quarter, 2012, 9,800 trips were made through this service daily. The TTC employed 12,449 personnel on December 31, 2011.[4]

Colloquially, the subway cars were known as "red rockets", a nickname originally given to Gloucester subway cars, which was the first version of subway cars on the TTC. They had a bright red exterior, and have been retired. The current version of subway cars, the T-1 series, have a red interior scheme. The name lives on as the TTC uses the phrase to advertise the service, such as "Ride the Rocket" in advertising material, "Rocket" in the names of some express buses, and the new "Toronto Rocket" subway cars, which began revenue operation on July 21, 2011.[5] Another common slogan is "The Better Way".


Public transit in Toronto started in 1849 with a privately operated transit service. In later years, a few routes were operated by the city, but it was 1921 when the city took over all routes and formed the Toronto Transportation Commission to operate them. During this period, service was mainly provided by streetcars. In 1954, the TTC adopted its present name, opened the first subway line, and greatly expanded its service area to cover the newly formed municipality of Metropolitan Toronto (which eventually became the enlarged city of Toronto). The system has evolved to feature a wide network of surface routes with the subway lines as the backbone. On February 17, 2008, the TTC made many service improvements, finally reversing more than a decade of service reductions and only minor improvements.[6]


Historically, the TTC recovered its operating costs from the fare box. This was especially true during the Great Depression and the Second World War, when it accumulated the considerable wealth which allowed it to expand widely after the war. It was not until the late 1950s that the newly formed Metro government was forced to provide operational subsidies, required primarily due to the TTC's requirement to provide bus service to the low-density suburbs in Metro Toronto.[citation needed]

Until the mid-1990s, the TTC received operational subsidies from both the municipal level and the provincial level of government. When the Harris Progressive Conservatives in Ontario ended those subsidies, the TTC was forced to cut back service with a significant curtailment put into effect on February 18, 1996, and an increased financial burden was placed on the municipal government. Since then, the TTC has consistently been in financial difficulties. Service cuts were averted in 2007, though, when the Toronto City Council voted to introduce new taxes to help pay for city services, including the TTC. As a result, the TTC became the largest transit operator in Anglo-America not to receive provincial/state funding.[7] The TTC has received federal funding from as early as 2009.[8] The TTC is also considered one of the most costly transit systems in North America.[9] For the 2011 operating year, the TTC had a projected operating budget of $1.45 billion. Revenue from fares covered approximately 70% of the budget, whereas the remaining 30% originated from the city. In 2009 through 2011, provincial and federal subsidies amounted to 0% of the budget.[10] In contrast to this, STM Montreal receives approximately 10% of its operating budget from the provincial (Quebec) government,[11] and Ottawa Transpo receives 9% of its funding from the province.[12] The fairness of preferentially subsidizing transit in specific Canadian cities has been questioned by citizens.[13]

Past transit operators[edit]

TYRR consolidation
TYRR and TFC takeover
private bus services acquisition
TRC acquisition
street railways consolidation
Toronto Transit Commission
York Township Railways
Danforth Bus Lines
DRCL[a 8]
Hollinger Bus Lines
Roseland Bus Lines
WYDBS[a 9]
WYCL[a 10]
     = private omnibus
     = private animal railway
     = private electric railway
     = private bus line
     = private ferry
     = public electric railway
     = public bus line
     = public transit body (all modes)

Island Ferry[edit]

Main article: Toronto Island Ferry

The ferry service to the Toronto Islands was operated by the TTC from 1927 to 1962, when it was transferred to the Metro Parks and Culture department.

Gray Coach[edit]

Main article: Gray Coach

Gray Coach Lines was a suburban and regional intercity bus operator founded in 1927 by the TTC. Gray Coach used interurban coaches to link Toronto to points throughout southern Ontario. In addition, Gray Coach operated tour buses in association with Gray Line Tours. The main terminal was the Metropolitan Toronto Bus Terminal on Elizabeth Street north of Dundas Street, downtown. In 1954, Gray Coach expanded further when it acquired suburban routes from independent bus operators not merged with the TTC as it expanded to cover Metro Toronto. By the 1980s, Gray Coach faced fierce competition in the interurban service in the GTA. The TTC sold Gray Coach Lines in 1990 to Stagecoach Holdings, which split the operation between Greyhound Canada and the government of Ontario three years later.



TTC's older Orion V bus in fleet at 18 Years old on route 85A Sheppard East to Don Mills Subway Station at Sheppard Ave East & Progress Ave, taken on September 11th, 2014

Buses are a large part of TTC operations today. But before about 1960, they played a minor role compared to streetcars. Buses began to operate in the city in 1921, and became necessary for areas without streetcar service. After an earlier experiment in the 1920s, trolleybuses were used on a number of routes starting in 1947, but all trolley bus routes were converted to bus operation between 1991 and 1993. The TTC always used the term "trolley coach" to refer to its trackless electric vehicles. Hundreds of old buses have been replaced with the new, low-floor Orion VII, and the TTC has acquired many hybrid electric buses. The TTC's hybrid buses were first put on the road in 2006;[14] these were replaced with the newer 500 Orion VII Next Generation Hybrids in 2008.[15][16] A new order will bring the total number of hybrids to over 500, second only to New York City. Older (2001–2006) TTC Orion VIIs feature the standard "breadbox" style, whereas newer (2007- ) buses feature Orion's new, more stylish body.[17] Although most of the bus fleet has already been replaced, a number of lift-equipped, high floor buses are reaching the end of their useful lifespan, and another order of buses may be needed around 2012. With a total of 2,031 buses, the TTC is the third-largest transit bus operator in North America, behind the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City (5,600+) and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (2,911).

The TTC also runs Wheel-Trans, a paratransit service for the physically disabled with special low-floor buses designed to accommodate wheelchairs and to make boarding easier for ambulatory customers with limited mobility.

The TTC ordered 27 articulated buses, nicknamed 'Artics', which began service December 2013, with all newly ordered buses scheduled to be in service by January 2015.[18][19] At 60 feet (18 metres) long versus a standard 40-foot bus, the Nova LFS Artics will hold about 112 people, in contrast to 65 on the usual bus.[20]

Rapid transit[edit]

Main article: Toronto rapid transit
A northbound subway train at Spadina station on the Yonge–University–Spadina line

The Toronto subway and RT system consists of the Yonge–University–Spadina line (Line 1), a U-shaped line that was opened in 1954 and was last extended in 1996; the Bloor–Danforth line (Line 2), an east-west line that was opened in 1966 and was last extended in 1980; the Scarborough RT (Line 3), a partly elevated light metro line that was opened in 1985 and continues from the Bloor-Danforth line's eastern terminus. The Sheppard line (Line 4) opened in 2002. The three subway lines are serviced by 678 cars grouped in trains of four cars on the SRT and Sheppard subway, and six cars on the Yonge-University-Spadina and Bloor-Danforth lines, with all three sharing non-revenue track connections and using the same technology. The Scarborough RT has a fleet of 28 cars grouped into trains of four cars each, and is not compatible with the subway system whatsoever. It therefore shares no track connections or equipment.

All subway lines provide service seven days a week from approximately 5:45 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. (the following day) (last train runs at approximately 1:45 in each direction) except for Sundays, in which the opening is delayed until approximately 9:00 a.m. During the overnight periods, the subway and its stations are closed in order for maintenance at track level and in the stations themselves. Overnight service is provided by buses operating above ground. These special overnight routes are issued numbers in the 300 series and are referred to as Blue Night routes, indicated by a typical TTC bus stop sign with a blue band added.

Plans were made for a streetcar subway along Queen Street, which were upgraded to a full subway in 1964, from the Humber loop to Greenwood, curving north to connect to the Bloor-Danforth subway. All that ever materialized of this line was an incomplete east-west station structure under Queen station at Yonge that remains in existence today, and structural provisions for an east-west station under Osgoode station at Queen and University Avenue. The Queen Subway plan was cancelled in 1974 in favour of new lines in North York. However, plans from Toronto and Ontario now necessitate its construction within the next 20 years to relieve pressure from the growing ridership on the Yonge subway line.

In the mid-1990s, work began on an Eglinton West subway line, but the project was cancelled before significant progress was made. Construction of this line is no longer a priority for the TTC. But in early 2007, Eglinton Crosstown LRT revisited the idea. The LRT would run underground in the central part of the line between Keele Street and Laird Drive, with the remainder a surface LRT route which would span almost the entire length of the city, from Pearson International Airport to Scarborough. It was relaunched as the Eglinton Crosstown line after Transit City was cancelled. The current plan retains the underground portion between Keele Street and Laird Drive, but the western terminus is at Mt. Dennis instead of Pearson International Airport. Construction of the Eglinton Crosstown is under way with service expected to commence in 2020.[21]


A CLRV L2 streetcar

Toronto's streetcar system is one of the few in North America still operating along street-running tracks and has been operating since the mid-19th century (horsecar service started in 1861, and 600 V DC overhead electric service in 1892). Streetcar service dates back to the Toronto Street Railway horse-drawn cars, and continues today with the current electric cars. New TTC routes since the 1940s have generally been operated by other modes, and the less busy streetcar routes have also been converted. Streetcar routes are now focused on the downtown area, with none running farther north than St. Clair Avenue, 6 km from Lake Ontario.

A great expansion of the streetcar network (as "Light Rapid Transit" on private rights-of-way) was proposed by the City of Toronto and the TTC on March 16, 2007, in the Transit City report. In November 2007, streetcars were equipped with the Surface Vehicle Automatic Stop Announcement System (SVASAS). The system calls out the name of the next stop over the public address system. Also, an LED board mounted inside behind the operator's shield displays to passengers the name of the cross street and updates as the vehicle passes a stop. Now, almost all TTC surface vehicles are fitted with the SVASAS. In October 2007, the Ontario Human Rights Commission introduced new regulations that require all transit operators in Ontario to call out all stops for the visually impaired passengers.

Prior to the introduction of the Canadian Light Rail Vehicle and the Articulated Light Rail Vehicle, the TTC operated a fleet of 765 PCC-type streetcars, 540 of which they purchased new. The rest of them were purchased as other cities sold off their PCC streetcar fleets.

A prototype of the new TTC streetcar.
A prototype of the new TTC streetcar.

The TTC's current fleet of 248 streetcars is nearing the end of its useful life, and the TTC will be buying at least 204 new LRVs. The commission has stated that potential bidders for the new contract must propose a 100% low-floor vehicle. These new vehicles will likely be costly, as the TTC's network has unique challenges, such as steep grades on hills (up to 8%), many extremely sharp curves (as little as 10.973 m or 36 ft in radius), and a unique track gauge of 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm). The commission intends to customize a model that meets approximately 75% of its criteria. Bombardier Transportation won the bid with its Flexity Outlook model.

The TTC has retained two PCC streetcars (#4500 and #4549) and one Peter Witt streetcar (#2766) primarily for charter service.

However, during the summer of 2009 and 2010, the TTC ran one of its two PCC cars on the 509 Harbourfront route on Sundays between May and the Labour Day weekend. In previous years, one of the PCC cars would run along the Harbourfront route on holidays during the summer.

Since 2013 the TTC has been undergoing a series of on-street testing of its new streetcar fleet, having successfully run the first test vehicle from the TTC’s Bathurst St. facility (Hillcrest) to Bathurst Station and back in the early hours of March 14, 2013.[22]

The first two new streetcars officially entered service on the 510 Spadina line on August 31, 2014. As more new vehicles arrive and are commissioned by the TTC, they will be rolled out onto other streetcar routes across Toronto with full deployment expected by 2019.[22]



Obverse and reverse of Toronto Transit Commission single-ride token

The TTC fare system accepts cash, tickets (for students ages 13 to 19 and seniors 65 or older), tokens, and transit passes. Since January 3, 2010, the adult cash fare has been $3.00 for a single trip.[23][24] Tokens, however, have increased in price per token from $2.50 in 2010 to $2.60 in 2012[23] and $2.65 in 2013. An annual fare increase of 10 cents is anticipated for at least 2014 and 2015. Tokens are sold in sets of three or seven at the same price per token, and each token is valid for a single trip. They must be purchased in increments of four from token vending machines (TVMs) or from collector booths.

TTC cash fare prices have risen faster than inflation since 1990. While the consumer price index (CPI) has risen at an annualized rate of 1.8% in Canada, TTC fares have increased at 4.5%.[25][26] A hypothetical investment in tokens would have been more profitable than to deposit money in a savings account or Guaranteed Investment Certificate.

Comparison of TTC cash fare price increases to inflation.
Comparison of cash fare price increases to inflation (CPI).
Present fare pricing (2014)[27]
Type of fare Adult Senior/student Child
Cash (single fare) $3.00 $2.00 $0.75
Tickets & Tokens 3 tokens tokens for $8.10
7 tokens tokens for $18.90
5 senior/student tickets for $9.25
10 senior/student tickets for $18.50

10 child tickets for $6.00
Monthly Metropass $133.75 $108.00 N/A
Metropass Discount
Plan (MDP)
$122.50 $98.00 N/A
Weekly Pass $39.25 $31.25 N/A
Downtown Express
(choose 1 option)
• $2.70 cash
• Token
• Express sticker
• $1.85 cash
• Senior/student ticket
• Express sticker
• $0.60 cash
• Child ticket
Present pricing for other fares (2014)[27]
Day Pass GTA Weekly Pass Post-Secondary Students Metropass PRESTO Fare System
$11.00 $56.00 $108.00 $2.70

Transfers are free for trips in one direction, and are encouraged by the grid system of routes and by transfer terminals at many subway stations. Transfers must be picked up at the point of entry, as outgoing buses and streetcars will not accept transfers from the closest subway station.

The provincial Minister of Transportation has announced plans to introduce the Presto card, a unified smart card-based payment system for the entire Greater Toronto Area. Union subway station was the first Toronto location to use the card in 2007. As of December 2014, 14 TTC stations are equipped with Presto Card readers, most of which are located on Line 1. There are plans for the TTC to fully adopt the Presto system in all of its subway stations, all buses, and new streetcars by 2017. The TTC's new streetcars that entered service in 2014 will be compatible with Presto in November.

Schedules and route information[edit]

Route information can be accessed through the TTC Info number 416-393-INFO. Individual route schedules are available online at Google Maps has supported the TTC since October 2010. Schedules for particular route are also usually posted at TTC transfer points, and trip planning services are available by phone.

Additional TTC information is circulated by "What's On" and "Rocket Rider/TTC Customer News" pamphlets located on some vehicles. Information can be accessed in person at the TTC head office (Davisville Station 1900 Yonge St.), but the TTC Info Centre at the Bloor-Yonge Station has been closed.

On December 15, 2008, the TTC launched a new Next Vehicle Arrival System (NVAS)[28] to indicate the time of arrival of the next vehicle along a given route. The Spadina and Harbourfont streetcar lines were the first equipped with the NVIS system, with time-to-arrival information displayed on LED systems at Union and Spadina stations. Spadina also features a flat-screen television that shows all of the cars on the 510 Spadina route. All TTC streetcars have been upgraded with Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers and now operate with NVIS. Most subway stations are equipped with OneStop media screens that display the time until the next train, the time of day, and other useful information, replacing the older and years-derelict "Subway Online" system. The next vehicle feature has been expanded to all routes, and are in place in LCD screens across all stations. By mid-2011, all buses and streetcars also have the tracking feature enabled, accessible free online and by SMS for commuters.[29]

Online trip planner[edit]

On February 3, 2010, the TTC launched an online trip planner, which allows commuters to plan their routes and transfers by typing in an address, main intersection, or landmark as a starting point or destination from the TTC's official website. However, since its launch, the trip planner has remained in beta mode. There are still a few bugs to be fixed.[30] On October 2010, the TTC officially integrated its trip planner with Google Maps.


The TTC makes connections with other transit systems of the Greater Toronto Area. GO Transit, MiWay, York Region Transit, Viva Rapid Transit, Brampton Transit, and Durham Region Transit are connected to the TTC via some of Toronto's subway stations and GO Transit's commuter rail stations. Some of their bus routes also coincide or intercept some of those of the TTC's, such as the Viva buses plying Finch Avenue en route to its North York hub. Via Rail and Amtrak connect with the TTC at Union Station, while Greyhound intercity buses also connect with the TTC at the Toronto Coach, Scarborough Centre and Yorkdale terminals.


The communication system used by surface vehicles is called the Communications and Information System. It was first piloted in the 1970s, the system was implemented in 1991 and now fully deployed on all TTC surface vehicles.


A flip up seat wheelchair position on a T1 subway train

Although the Wheel-Trans door-to-door service has been available since the mid-1970s, since the 1990s, the TTC has focused in providing accessible services on conventional bus routes, the RT and subway. While only 29 of the 68 stations on the Scarborough RT and the Yonge–University–Spadina and Bloor–Danforth subway lines are wheel-chair accessible, all stations on the Sheppard line are fully accessible. In December 2011 all bus routes became accessible with the retirement of Commissions last inaccessible buses.[31] On August 31, 2014, the streetcar network became accessible when the commission launched its new fleet of low-floor Bombardier's Flexity Outlook streetcars, which will replace all vehicles in the current fleet (which are not accessible) by 2020.

All surface vehicles have been equipped with the Surface Vehicle Automatic Stop Announcement System (SVASAS) since February 2008 which is operated over the loudspeakers dictating the name of the next stop (e.g., "Next Stop: Yonge Street, Queen Subway Station.") along with an LED board on the streetcar/bus displaying the name of the street and changes each time when a streetcar/bus passes a stop. Since October 25, 2007, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has urged all public transit operations in Ontario including GO Transit to call out all stops for the visually impaired passengers. Transit operations who do not announce all stops could be violating riders' rights according to the OHRC.[32]



A shot looking west of TTC's Long Branch Loop.

Most TTC surface routes terminate at loops, side streets or subway station complexes. The TTC system is one of the few mass transit systems in Canada where many surface routes can be accessed inside a paid-fare zone common to other routes or subway lines. This feature allows boarding via the back doors at terminals, reduces the usage of paper transfers, and the need of operators to check for proof-of-payment. However, offenders caught by an authorized TTC employee, or Toronto Police officers face a $500 fine for fare evasion.

There are some larger loops at terminal buildings other than subway stations:

Other loops include:

  • Neville Park Loop
  • High Park Loop
  • Woodbine Loop
  • Earlscourt Loop
  • Fleet Loop
  • Gunns Loop
  • Exhibition Loop

Stops and shelters[edit]

A typical TTC bus stop

The shelters used by the systems are split between Astral Media (with CBS Outdoor since 2006 and formerly Viacom Media) and Toronto Transportation Services. Astral Media has full shelters with ads, some full shelters with ads and canopy shelters (not enclosed) without ads.[33] A total of 4,100 shelters are managed by Toronto Transportation and most from the former transportation departments of the municipalities that make up the City of Toronto.

There are four versions of shelters found in the city:[34]

  • Kramer Design Associates Ltd/Cantilevered arch roof - newest version being installed
    • Cantilever arch roof canopy - used on the 512 St. Clair streetcar line
  • Contemporary or Barrel vault dome roof - some by Daytech and installed by Viacom and CBS are found mostly in suburbs like Scarborough
    • Barrel vault dome canopy - select stations with streetcar platforms
  • Traditional flat top - older version in the former city of Toronto and variants in Etobicoke
    • High Capacity Traditional - used on 510 Spadina streetcar line
  • Classic shelters - oldest version without adds and found mostly suburbs

The Otter Loop Shelter on Avenue Road south of Lawrence Avenue West is the only remaining bus shelter from the 1940s and 1950s. It was designed by John B. Parkin Associates.[35] The loop and shelter are not in regular revenue service and not owned by the TTC.

The transit system is introducing shelters with solar panels and ones with next stop broadcast. The latter will appear along streetcar lines.


TTC buses and streetcars are operated out of a number of garages and carhouses located around the city and are serviced at several other facilities. The surface routes are divided into several divisions. Individual divisions have a superintendent, an on-duty mobile supervisor, a CIS communications centre, and a garage facility tasked with managing the division's vehicle fleet and routes.


TTC Head Office is located at 1900 Yonge Street at Davisville Avenue. Known as the William C. McBrien Building, it was opened in 1957. The previous TTC Headquarters was at Yonge and Front Streets in the Toronto Board of Trade Building.

There are plans to relocate the HQ to a yet to be built site at 4050 Yonge Street near York Mills Road. The site is a commuter parking lot with a TTC entrance to York Mills Subway Station. Build Toronto is charged with helping the commission relocate, but it is facing political opposition from many mayoral candidates.[36]

Commuter parking lots[edit]

The TTC operates 30 commuter parking lots, all at subway stations, with a total of 13,981 parking spaces. Effective April 1, 2009, free parking for Metropass holders was eliminated. All passengers using parking facilities during peak hours must now pay for the service. The rates vary from lot to lot but are in the range of $2.00–$6.00 from 5:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on weekdays, and free at other times.[37] Certain lots can only be used by commuters with a valid metropass. All TTC lots are open (uncovered) parking lots.

Cleaning - subway cars and washrooms[edit]

There are 10 sets (men and women) of public washrooms located on the TTC system, all at subway stations that are major transfer points, at the ends of rapid transit lines, or at the former end of rapid transit lines.[38] All are located within the paid fare area, thus accessible only after fare has been paid.

In early 2012, the TTC began a program of upgrading the washrooms by replacing tiles, fittings and fixtures, and implementing a cleaning schedule to improve customer experience. The first washrooms were completed at Finch and Kipling stations in February and all were done by June 2012.[39]

Improvements consisted of:

  • new tiles on walls and floors
  • heater replacement
  • new ventilation system
  • new hand dryers (Dyson)
  • hands-free faucets
  • soap dispensers
  • new fixtures (sinks, toilets and urinals) and fittings (plumbing)
  • new cubicle partitions
  • new garbage cans (removable)
  • new lighting and signage

The remaining eight washrooms (Bloor-Yonge, Kennedy, Downsview, Wilson, Sheppard-Yonge, Eglinton, Warden, Don Mills) will be completed by end of June.[year needed] Islington's washrooms were closed and will not undergo the renovation.

Washrooms will also be cleaned every 90 minutes during system hours to ensure they are clean as possible.

On the subway system cleaning crews will clean inside the subway cars between College and Osgoode stations as part of a pilot project.[40] Sweeping and cleaning will also be done at Finch and Kipling stations at off peak times.[40]


Safety programs[edit]

Safety features provided by the TTC include:

  • Request Stop on surface routes (9 p.m.-5 a.m.) (excluding streetcar routes); all passengers travelling alone can request the driver to stop at points between bus stops. The program was started in 1991, due in part to the activities of serial rapist and killer Paul Bernardo. On October 13, 2011, after multiple requests from the public and, finally, a letter by LGBTQ rights group Queer Ontario,[41] the TTC announced that it would make the Request Stop Program available to all passengers in need.
  • Designated Waiting Areas (DWA) on subway and RT platforms; these are well lit, have intercoms, monitored by security cameras, and are at the location where the guard car stops.
  • Toronto EMS Paramedics stationed at key locations within the subway system during the morning and evening rush to assist with medical emergencies, and provide a faster response. This also reduces delays on the rapid transit system.[42]
  • Emergency Power Cut stations - indicated by a blue beacon - and located on both ends of all Subway/RT platforms with a telephone to call Transit Control's emergency number (3555).
  • Yellow Passenger Assistance Alarm strips on subway and RT cars since 1977.
  • Emergency stopping mechanisms (PGEV - Passenger/Guard Emergency Valve) on the T1 subway and Scarborough RT trains (for use in severe emergencies, i.e., doors open while train in motion, person stuck in doors as train leaves station, derailment, etc.) except for the new Toronto Rocket subway trains.
  • Approximately 12,000 cameras monitoring activities on the subway system and on the entire fleet of buses, streetcars and Toronto Rocket subway trains.[43]
  • Underground Alert messages displayed on the subway platform video screens to notify passengers about criminals.
  • TTC Transit Enforcement Unit

TTC By-law No. 1[edit]

The TTC's By-law No. 1 is a by-law governing the actions of passengers and employees while on Commission property. It can be enforced by a "proper authority" which is defined in the by-law as: "an employee or agent of the TTC wearing a TTC uniform; an employee or agent of the TTC carrying an identification card issued by the TTC; or a municipal police officer."[44] The by-law covers rules regarding, fare payment and conduct while in the system. Effective 12 October 2009, a revised version of the by-law has been issued. Revisions include the restriction of placing feet or "any object that may soil" on seats, the prohibition of using offensive language, and the provision that one must give up their seat to a person with a disability in priority seating areas.

An online version of the by-law is available here.[45]

Transit Enforcement Unit[edit]

From 1997 to 2011, the TTC employed Special Constables that were responsible for safety and security and had similar policing powers to Toronto Police Service officers. During the phase out of the Special Constables, the Toronto Police reinstated its Transit Patrol Unit, which had originally been cancelled in the mid-1990s. The Special Constables were replaced by bylaw enforcement officers known as Transit Enforcement Officers, as part of the TTC's Transit Enforcement Unit.

The negotiation between TTC and the Toronto Police Services Board took place in 2013 resulting restored Special Constable Status and Peace Officer Authority.

OneStop media system[edit]

OneStop Sign located over subway platform at Dundas Station.

The TTC, in partnership with OneStop Media Group, have rolled out large LCD television screens in major stations throughout the system. The new media system replaced the old "Subway Online" system, which has been decommissioned.

The signs feature advertising, news headlines and weather information from local 24-hour news channel CP24, TTC-specific information regarding service changes and delays, and information pertaining to using the system.

On June 12, 2007, the TTC, in partnership with the Toronto Crime Stoppers and OneStop, launched the Underground Alert system at the Toronto Police Headquarters. The new Underground Alert system allows authorities to post pictures and details of wanted suspects on the screens throughout the subway system. Subway passengers will be encouraged to call police if they have any information.[46][47][48]

The system can also be used when an Amber Alert is issued, which also may include announcements via the P.A. system. In addition, the "Amber Alert" signs may also appear on many TTC buses.

In September 2008, Dundas Station was the first to feature a “Next Train” announcement integrated into the signage. The system has been expanded to numerous other stations since its initial roll out.[49] Since mid-July 2009, the majority of stations have been equipped with this service.


The TTC uses several types of voice and data communications. There are three main systems. The first is the system used by Operations, Security and Maintenance. This system operates on five UHF conventional frequencies. Channels 1, 3, 4 and 5 are used for day-to-day operations, while Channel 2 is reserved for the Wheel-Trans service.

Buses and streetcars use the CIS (Communications and Information System). This system is spread out city wide with transmit facilities throughout the city. Each bus and streetcar has a Transit Radio Unified Microprocessor (TRUMP) set on board. This is attached to a transponder receiver which allows CIS operators to track the location of the vehicle using an older computational system known as dead reckoning. The TRUMP also allows the operators and CIS operators to send and receive text messages for such things as short turns and route adjustments. There is also the option of voice communications between the operator and the CIS operator. The CIS was conceived in the late 1970s and was fully implemented in 1991. With the introduction of the NextBus GPS technology, the CIS positioning system is now[when?] using a combination of GPS data and the old dead reckoning sign-post system.

The third system is used by the subway system. This is called the Wayside system. Replacing the old devices which communicated by the third rail are new UHF MPT-1327 Trunking radio sets. The Subway system is divided into three separate systems, each representing its respective subway line. This new trunking system allows Transit Control to communicate directly with a single train, a zone encompassing several trains, or the entire line. The Scarborough RT is not included in this system. They continue to use a single channel UHF system, much the same as the system used by operations staff.

All of these systems can be monitored by a scanner capable of the UHF Low band (406–430 MHz).[50] Numeric codes — often referring to people or positions (299 Bloor - Subway Line mechanic at Bloor) are also announced through the radio and/or the overhead paging system. The TTC also has Several "Plans" ('Plan A' through 'Plan G')[51] that are used in emergencies but are not announced on the P.A. system and only referred to on the radio.[52]


The TTC day-to-day operations are managed by the Chief Executive Officer. It used to be managed by the Chief General Manager (CGM). The executive of the TTC is led by the Chair of the TTC Board.

A list of CGM and CEO of the TTC:

Current management team[edit]

  • Mike Palmer, Deputy Chief Operating Officer
  • Brad Ross, director of corporate communications
  • Richard Leary, Chief Service Officer
  • Chris Upfold, Chief Customer Service Officer

Station managers[edit]

In 2013, the TTC assigned station managers on the most subway and RT routes:[53]

Bloor–Danforth line

  • Broadview to Kennedy subway stations and Kennedy to McCowan RT stations
  • Castle Frank to Spadina
  • Bathurst to Kipling

Yonge–University–Spadina line

  • Finch to St. Clair
  • St. Andrew to Summerhill
  • Downsview to Osgoode

The Sheppard line is managed under the "Finch to St. Clair" division.


The TTC has a team of over 12,000 employees. Most are operators, however the Commission also employs supervisors, custodians and a wide range of skilled trades people who work on vehicles and critical subway and surface infrastructure.

In October 2008, TTC was named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc., which was announced by the Toronto Star newspaper.[54]

Labour disputes[edit]

Unionized workers of the TTC workers have performed strike actions eight times since 1952:

  • 1952 - On strike for 19 days.
  • 1970 - On strike for 12 days.
  • 1974 - On strike for 23 days in August; service resumed when back-to-work legislation was passed by the province, which marked the first time the province was involved in a TTC strike.
  • 1978 - On strike for 8 days; service resumed by order of back-to-work legislation.
  • 1991 - On strike for 8 days in September.
  • 1999 - On strike for 2 days in April; service resumed by order of back-to-work legislation.
  • 2006 - On strike for 1 day on May 29.
  • 2008 - On strike for 2 days on April 26 at 12:01 a.m.

On March 30, 2011 the Province of Ontario passed legislation classifying the TTC an essential service, which blocked the employees' right to strike, and the employer's right to lock-out.[55]


Shuttle buses are often deployed to replace service during an emergency subway closure that is expected to last more than 15 minutes

Although it is a generally safe system, the TTC has experienced several major accidents and incidents since 1954:

  • On 27 March 1963, a six-car subway train was completely destroyed by fire. This occurred on a spare track near Union station, after the few remaining passengers were evacuated.[56]
  • On 12 December 1975, a TTC bus travelling east on St. Clair Avenue collided with a westbound GO Transit train at the level crossing between Danforth Rd. and Midland Ave. just north of the Scarborough GO Train Station. Nine people were killed and 20 others injured. This was the worst accident in terms of loss of life in the history of the TTC and GO Transit systems. The level crossing was replaced by an overpass a few years later. This also led to the Ontario wide law that all public buses and school buses must come to a stop at level rail crossings prior to proceeding.
  • On 15 October 1976, an arson destroyed a train and caused significant damage to Christie station. There is evidence today with the odd-coloured trim tiles on the station walls on the centre of the platforms.[57][58] A section of the line was closed for two days.
  • On 11 August 1995, the Russell Hill subway accident resulted in the deaths of three passengers and injuries to 30 others. There were an additional 100 passengers who filed injury-related claims from the accident.
  • In late 1995, TTC employee Jimmy Trajceski was killed during a robbery at Victoria Park station. Adrian Kinkead was arrested 4 months later for the crime and was found to be responsible for two other murders. He was convicted of all three crimes and sentenced to life in prison.[59]
  • On 27 September 1997, 23-year-old Charlene Minkowski was killed when she was pushed in front of a southbound train at Dundas Station. Herbert Cheong, a diagnosed schizophrenic, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison.[60]
  • Between 2 and 4 January 1999, an exceptionally large snowstorm paralyzed parts of Central Ontario and the Eastern United States. As a result, the city and the transit system ground to a halt. In the following days, major interruptions and delays were incurred and policies to handle snow at the Commission were changed.[61]
  • On 8 December 2000, a garbage train caught fire while en route through Old Mill station. The train was completely destroyed and the station remained closed for two days. Since the incident, the TTC has stopped the practice of using garbage trains and maintains a fleet of surface garbage trucks to collect refuse.[62]
  • On 14 August 2003, at around 4:15 p.m. EDT, the Northeast Blackout affected parts of Canada and the northeastern United States. The city of Toronto, like many other cities involved, effectively ground to a halt. Subway service was suspended and 18 trains sat stuck in tunnels between stations, unable to move with no power. (All other trains were able to coast without power to the nearest station to be evacuated).[63] Streetcars remained stationary where they were, and buses fought to get through gridlocked traffic, hampered by the lack of traffic signals. The subway did not reopen until August 18. This was the longest complete interruption in subway service in the history of the TTC. The incident led to an extensive review of TTC emergency procedures.
  • On 23 April 2007, a TTC asbestos removal crew employee, Tony Almeida, was killed and several others were injured at the end of a night shift when the work car they were operating snagged on some cabling and dislodged a work platform. The TTC was fined $250,000 for violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act.[64][65] It was later found that Almeida was under the influence of cannabis.[66]
  • On May 13, 2011, two TTC buses collided head-on at a ramp on the lower bus level at Wilson subway station.
  • On 30 August 2011, a woman was killed when a TTC bus rear-ended a flatbed truck carrying a crane at around 2:30pm on Lawrence Ave between Victoria Park to Don Mills.[67] At least 13 other people were injured in the crash.[68][69][70] The bus driver has been charged with criminal negligence causing death and possession of cannabis, as the drug was found in his belongings at the time of the accident.[71][72][73]
  • On 22 July 2012, two people were injured when a bus crashed into a building on Queen St. West at Peter Street. The bus hit a car and then a cab before slamming into a building.[74][75]
  • On 14 September 2012, before the start of service TTC employee, Peter Pavlovski was killed and another TTC employee was seriously injured after being struck by a subway maintenance train north of Yorkdale Station. Subway service was affected for the morning rush hour during the investigation due to the fact the incident left many trains stranded in the Wilson Subway Yard.[76]
  • On 27 July 2013, Sammy Yatim was shot dead by police aboard the 505 Dundas streetcar.
  • On 13 August 2013, a cube truck crashed head-on into an idle TTC bus near Middlefield Rd. and Steeles Ave. E. at 11:30 AM. The accident killed one person and injured 12 people.[77]
  • Between 21-22 December 2013, a violent ice storm affected the City of Toronto, (the same storm which also affected much of Eastern Canada, the Central Great Plains and the Northeastern United States), as a result, on 22 December, the TTC suspended all streetcar services for most of the day after a number of streetcars got stranded due to the thick ice on the overhead wires, the storm also affected much of the subway/RT network which included a complete shutdown of two subway/RT lines, between 22-23 December, the Scarborough RT was shut down due to the fallen tree limbs caused by the freezing rain and power related issues, while the Sheppard line was closed between 22-24 December due to power related issues, a number of service disruptions were also reported on other subway/RT lines, portions of the Yonge-University-Spadina line was shut down between Bloor-Yonge and Eglinton stations for several hours on 22 December, at one point trains by-passed a number of stations which had no electricity including, North York Centre and York Mills stations, similarly on the Bloor–Danforth line subway service was also suspended for a couple hours between Victoria Park and Kennedy stations as well as between Kipling and Islington stations. .[78]


The TTC has long maintained a policy of not releasing suicide information and statistics to the public or the media for fear of the possibility of "copycat suicides". In 2008, the Toronto Sun launched a year-long appeal before Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner to have the TTC release information relating to the number of suicides and attempts between 1998 and 2007. The Information and Privacy Commissioner ordered the statistics be made available and they were released to the public on 26 November 2009.[79]

From 1998 to 2007, 150 people died committing suicide by coming into contact with a TTC subway train. Since 1954, when the Yonge subway line first opened, there have been more than 1,200 incidents on the TTC (including both fatalities and attempts).[80]

After being forced to make the information public the TTC ensured that they also released information demonstrating the efforts being taken to intervene and prevent such incidents in the future.[81] The TTC's "Gatekeeper Program" is an internal course available for front line staff to learn and identify the warning signs of someone who may be suicidal and help them or at least try and prevent them from doing so on the transit system. The TTC also has partnerships with St. Michael's Hospital and other institutions to assist with both prevention programs and counselling programs for staff who have witnessed such incidents.[82] The TTC maintains that it will continue its policy of not reporting suicides and suicide related statistics in years to come,[79] however in February 2010, statistics from 2008 and 2009 were released in a public report to the Commission regarding suicide and suicide prevention.[83] On November 10th, 2014, separate suicide attempts were made, halting service on two lines. Following this, platform edge doors were discussed, however the TTC does not yet have a plan for funding the $800 million required to upgrade all 74 subway stations.[84]

Crisis Link[edit]

In June 2011, the TTC announced a new suicide prevention program called "Crisis Link" aimed at people who are in a station and in immediate danger of performing self-harm. Special speed dial buttons have been installed on pay phones in station Designated Waiting Areas that "link" the caller to a 24-hour crisis councillor service provided by Distress Centres of Toronto. Signage has also been placed in high risk areas of the station platform directing those at risk to utilize the service. The program includes 141 speed dial buttons on the system's payphones and 200 posters placed on station platforms.[85]


The below statistics are the subway suicide incidents and attempts from 1998 through 2014:[86]

 Year   Suicides   Attempts  Total Incidents
1998 12 13 25
1999 22 4 26
2000 21 12 33
2001 12 17 29
2002 16 11 27
2003 17 9 26
2004 15 8 23
2005 14 6 20
2006 8 11 19
2007 13 9 22
2008 11 8 19
2009 14 4 18
2010 19 10 29
2011 8 8 16
2012 11 8 20
2013 8 9 17
2014 (As of November 10th, 2014) 9 17 26

♦ Data obtained from Toronto Transit Commission Report that does not specify between attempted and completed suicides.

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • The TTC Story by Mike Filey
  • Not A One Horse Town by Mike Filey
  • Riding the Rocket children's book by Barbara A. Ferreira (2013)
  • Reflections & Recollections Transfer Points January 2005
  • Independents Take Over - TTC Goes Metro Wide Transfer Points August–September 2004
  • Toronto Transit Commission Goes Metro Wide Transfer Point December 2004

External links[edit]