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TTC riders in shuttle shuffle

Jan 17, 2009 04:30 AM

Thousands of TTC riders struggled aboard packed shuttle buses or walked to work in bone-chilling temperatures as the lengthy west-end blackout disrupted service on the Bloor-Danforth subway and Carlton streetcar during yesterday’s morning commute.

It wasn’t that the trains couldn’t run. The TTC has a dedicated source of power to the subway’s third rail, and the substations that provide that electricity weren’t affected by the outage this time, unlike the 2003 blackout that shut the system down, said spokesperson Brad Ross.

That dedicated power does not, however, electrify station lights, ventilation systems or emergency lights in the tunnels, making it unsafe for the TTC to carry passengers through the tunnels even when it can run trains in an area affected by a power failure. As a result, trains ran empty between Dufferin and Spadina.

The TTC deployed up to 55 shuttle buses to move rush-hour crowds along Bloor St. before subway service was fully restored in mid-afternoon. Still, many were stranded on the frosty streets as buses bypassed them because they were simply too crowded.

“We are the first ones to admit shuttle buses cannot replace subway service,” said Ross. “We’re one of the few systems in the world that offer shuttles or alternate transportation when the system’s down. At the midpoint of any subway outage, buses are going to be packed.”