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TTC prepares for ice storm

Update — Saturday, April 14, 11:31 a.m.: The TTC is operating a different service model in central Toronto than it originally proposed.

Meteorologists are forecasting freezing rain with the possibility of ice accumulating on the ground, trees and structures in Toronto and the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area.

TTC staff have prepared for a severe weather event to make sure that transit service continues.

Subway / rapid transit trains

Storm trains operate overnight Friday and Saturday to clear the power rail of ice. These trains with an anti-freeze agent are operating along all four subway / rapid transit lines. The trains will deploy the anti-freeze when the rain begins.

Crews will use switch heaters to keep switches clear in yards, and will also manually make sure that the heaters are working effectively. Workcars will act as storm trains in the yards to keep the third rails clear of ice.

The TTC had previously planned to close Line 2 Bloor - Danforth between Kipling and Jane Stations this weekend. Since staff planned that closure to allow crews to maintain the line underground, the closure continues on schedule.


Crews have been applying anti-freeze to the overhead wiring network to keep wires ice-free so that streetcars can collect energy and operate. To prevent ice from building up significantly, they have also attached “sliders” to the trolley poles of every fifth streetcar. The sliders knock ice off the overhead, if it accumulates.

Overhead crews are on standby and are positioned around the city in the event of power loss or overhead wires coming down.

Crews are also applying the same anti-freeze that they used on the overheard to all switches across the network. Storm cars will operate along all routes, keeping switches free of any ice build-up that the anti-freeze could not prevent.

Because the 512 St Clair route is far from downtown, crews could not quickly get to the area quickly in the event of an issue. Instead, the TTC is replacing streetcars with buses along the route, starting 8 a.m. Saturday. The TTC will use customer service agents, A-frame signs, supervisors and all of its usual communications channels to get the message out that passengers must wait for buses at the curb and not at the centre-road “island” streetcar tracks on St. Clair Avenue.

Buses also operate along the east end of the 501 Queen streetcar route, between Neville Park Loop and Kingston Road. In this way, the TTC can keep more streetcars in the central area, which will also help keep switches and overhead wires clear of ice.


The TTC relies on the City of Toronto’s Transportation Services crews to keep all roads clear of ice. The TTC has enough buses available if a major power outage knocks out its ability to operate streetcars. If a power outage affects the subway, it will deploy shuttle buses.


The TTC’s transit control centre will issue e-alerts, tweets and other communications as the weekend progresses. It will alert passengers to any service changes because of power outages, route diversions or other disruptions resulting from the weather conditions. Media relations staff will advise media about service changes and TTC Customer Service (@TTChelps) will help answer passenger questions and provide alternative transit options on-line and by telephone.

(Updated — Saturday, April 14, 11:31 a.m.): This morning, the TTC further revised service through central Toronto during the storm.

  • 501 Queen: Buses operate between Neville Park Loop and Greenwood Avenue. Streetcars operate between Russell Carhouse (at Connaught Avenue) and Dundas West Station along King Streets East and West and Roncesvalles Avenue.
  • 504 King: Extra service, but streetcars follow their regular route.
  • 505 Dundas: Every second bus operates along Queen Streets East and West, instead of Dundas Streets East and West. All buses link Broadview and Dundas West Stations, as usually.
  • 506 Carlton: Regular service.
  • 509 Harbourfront: Extra service to partially replace 510 Spadina service along Queens Quay West and through the tunnel to and from Union Station, but streetcars follow their regular route.
  • 510 Spadina: Streetcars operate only between Spadina Station and Queens Quay. Board 509 Harbourfront cars for service to and from Union Station.
  • 511 Bathurst: Regular service.
  • 512 St Clair: Buses replace streetcars and skip St Clair West Station.
  • 514 Cherry: WheelTrans shuttle buses between King Street East and Distillery Loop. Buses along the 29 Dufferin route provide service to and from Dufferin Gate Loop.