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TTC CEO apologizes for ‘unacceptable’ subway delays

The head of the TTC went into damage-control mode and issued an online video apologizing for a series of problems on the subway system that led to major delays during Monday evening’s rush.

Commission CEO Andy Byford apologized to frustrated riders in a video released Tuesday afternoon.

“I just want to say sorry for the poor subway service we offered last night,” he said.

“I appreciate it was a frustrating trip home.”

TTC Chair Karen Stintz said the apology was a first for the commission.

“I think it is a significant step for the TTC,” she said. “I do think we owe explanations to the riding public to build their confidence that this is not going to happen again.”

The problems started around 5 p.m. when smoke was reported at track level at Eglinton station, leading to a 17-minute delay. Ten minutes later, a similar problem was reported at Keele station, leading to a 10-minute delay.

“Now in such circumstances, we put safety first. We don’t take any risks and the service is suspended while we await the Toronto Fire Service to give us the all clear so we can resume service,” Byford said.

Then, around 6 p.m., the doors opened on one train as it was stopped in a tunnel near Dupont station, causing yet another delay of about 25 minutes.

“That was an operator error. That was human error,” Stintz said of the inadvertent door opening.

“Obviously that kind of thing cannot happen and so we’re taking steps to look into that.”

TTC rider Ashley Botting told CityNews no safety announcement was made after the doors opened.

“The subway stopped like it was a regular delay and then the doors just opened in the middle of the tunnel. They were probably open for about a minute and nobody came on and said, ‘Hey, don’t go near the doors. We’re sorry about this,’” she told CityNews.

In a tweet sent around 8:30 p.m., TTC spokesman Brad Ross said “subway service levels … were unacceptable” and told followers that Byford would post an explanation on the TTC’s website on Tuesday.

On top of the technical problems, there were several passenger assistance alarms activated on trains as well, Byford said.

TTC riders didn’t hold back in venting their anger and frustration with Monday night’s service, complaining about the service on Twitter. The subway service problem happened less than a month after the commission unveiled its first ever customer charter, promising better communication with customers.

“Key to that improvement is increased reliability and punctuality of the service and clearly we didn’t meet that objective last night,” Byford said.

Below is a sampling of what TTC riders had to say about the poor Monday night service:

[View the story “TTC riders sound off on subway delays” on Storify]