A little-known TTC policy came in handy for some riders Monday night when subway signal problems left thousands of people waiting over an hour to get home.
A broken signal at St. Clair West Station could not be fixed until service wrapped up for the night, causing problems along Line 1. Some stranded passengers asked station staff for refunds on their fares. The TTC doesn’t issue refunds, but instead, staff gave some riders an emergency transfer, which they were able to use instead of paying a fare the next morning.
“Our station staff have the discretion to issue what’s called an emergency transfer,” explains TTC spokesperson Stuart Green. “If you go into a station, and let’s say the system is closed, and you actually can’t get in anywhere, you would get one of those, which gives you a free ride at another time.”
Green stresses that the transfers aren’t meant to be used after a delay has passed.
“Generally, they would take that ride on the same day. Perhaps they paid with their last token, getting into the subway, and they want to get on a bus outside, they could use that. So they would still get their ride.”
When CityNews spoke to riders on Tuesday, many were surprised to learn of the emergency transfers.
“They should be better publicized, they’re a good idea,” said TTC rider, Jessica.
Green says that during Monday’s delay, transit staff were busy handing the transfers out to riders.
“Our station staff were giving them out to people as they entered the stations last night,” he says. “We can’t catch everyone as they’re coming through a gate, but if we caught them inside and they said, ‘I want a refund,’ we would issue one of those instead.”
Since 2017, the TTC has been upgrading the signal system on Line 1. Green says automated signals could have prevented an issue like Monday’s from happening but right now it’s only operational between Sheppard West and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station. He adds that more of the new system will be active on Line 1 over the winter, while the whole line is scheduled to be online by the end of 2019.