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TTC eyes 24-hour subway service

By ROB GRANATSTEIN, CITY HALL BUREAU

Toronto’s subway may soon rocket along the rails all night long.

TTC commissioners asked staff yesterday to investigate running the subway 24 hours a day, rather than stopping at 1:30 a.m. and restarting at 6 a.m.

TTC staff will look to see if they can do a test of 24-hour service, likely on the Yonge line.

“It’s not at all easy,” said TTC chief general manager Gary Webster. “But we support it.”

The problem is the bulk of the TTC’s track and tunnel maintenance is done overnight, when trains don’t run.

Philip Webb, who has studied the 24-hour subway issue, said maintenance could be done by periodically closing a section of the subway line for a weekend, giving crews 60 straight hours to do a job, rather than three hours a night.

All-night subways will work almost effortlessly when the TTC’s automated signalling system is installed, but it won’t be completed on the Yonge-University-Spadina line until 2016. That system would allow trains to run both north and south on one track, leaving the other side quiet for maintenance.

WON’T BREAK BANK

All-night trains are possible on the Sheppard line now — it has the new signalling system. But the demand would be a fraction of what is found on the Yonge line.

Webb believes the idea won’t break the bank, either.

“Running the subway all night is cheaper than it looks,” said Webb, a research associate at the Centre for Urban and Community Studies at the U of T.

A report on if and when the TTC could try the red-eye Red Rocket is expected back early next year.




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