Toronto mass transit shutdown troubling sign ahead of PanAm Games

Mon Jun 8, 2015 5:12pm EDT
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's subway system shut down for more than an hour on Monday during the morning rush as the city prepared for an influx of thousands of athletes and spectators for the Pan American Games next month.

All four lines on Toronto's spartan and overcrowded subway system were shut down for 95 minutes during the morning commute after a power failure caused all communications systems - including radio, email and phone - to fail.

With just over four weeks before the start of the Pan Am Games on July 10, even the Toronto transit agency's top executive said the system could not be relied upon.

"The system is unreliable ... ever more people are using an ever-aging system on the lowest subsidy in North America, so that's the triple whammy we are faced with," Toronto Transit Commission Chief Executive Andy Byford told reporters.

"Obviously, we want to get it right during the Pan Am games. This kind of incident - whether we have the Pan Am games coming up or not - I'm very disappointed this happened today."

About 125,000 passengers were evacuated from subway stations, but the system had no extra buses to pitch in, stranding riders citywide.

Frustrated commuters tweeted that car-hailing service Uber was charging up to four times the usual rate as taxis were quickly overwhelmed by demand.

Byford said Monday's shutdown came down to a defective circuit board that controls communications for the system's 60-year-old signal and track system.   Continued...