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TTC to brake for midnight New Year's Eve

Vehicles will stop for 10 minutes as Y2K precaution

By Joseph Hall
Toronto Star Transportation Reporter

The Toronto Transit Commission will come to a dead stop five minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Hopefully, it will start back up again five minutes into the new year.

As a precaution against any potential Y2K problems with the system, hydro or other city services, all commission vehicles will be ordered to halt just before the millennium is rung in.

“We’re certainly not anticipating any problems, and we are confident we’re Y2K ready,” said TTC operations manager Gary Webster.

“But we want to make sure that nothing goes wrong. We certainly don’t want to have a subway stopped in the middle of a tunnel at the stroke of midnight or a streetcar in the middle of an intersection.”

Webster said a $14 million investment has made 383 of the system’s 384 most vital operating networks Y2K compliant.

The one that isn’t, a computer that runs the troubled Scarborough Rapid Transit line, can be made to work for several months after the change of date but will be replaced at a cost of about $2 million early in the new year.

“We’ll try to give our customers plenty of notice so they won’t be stuck on a bus or subway going nowhere at midnight,” Webster said.

“And the shutdown might be a little shorter than 10 minutes if we feel everything is going smoothly.”

The system also announced Wednesday that it will keep its subway lines open until 4 a.m. this Jan. 1, an hour longer than is traditional on New Year’s, in anticipation of massive parties.

But Webster begged commission chairperson Howard Moscoe not to implement a proposal to make fares free for New Year’s Eve.

“We’ve tried that in the past, and the trouble is the subway itself becomes party central,” he told a commission meeting.

His plea caused Moscoe to withdraw a motion to seek a sponsor to pay for a blanket free pass, as was formerly done by a Toronto distillery.