Subway line back in action as Toronto weathers transit chaos

Julianna Cummins and Matthew Coutts

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TORONTO – Full service resumed Wednesday night on Toronto’s main subway line, following an afternoon of rush-hour traffic akin to chaos Wednesday that forced over a quarter-million people to wonder how they were going to get home.

The key stretch of the Yonge subway line was shut down after a construction mishap at a roadway bridge over the north-south route. A “third-party contractor” apparently dislodged a piece of concrete as he cut a trench to lay a cable, and transit operators feared it would plummet to the tracks.

Rush hour was a mess. Fifty shuttle buses were added, but that wasn’t enough to carry the 300,000 people who usually use the line during the afternoon drive.

An estimated 1,000 people waited for a shuttle at the downtown Bloor station alone, while hundreds of less patient riders elected to walk the nearly 40-minute distance up Yonge Street to Eglinton Avenue.

The same stretch of Yonge was overrun with traffic burdened by extra buses and taxi cabs, which came to a standstill as frustrated drivers and pedestrians meshed at busy intersections.

Among the fender benders and near-misses, a 71-year-old woman was hit by a car at Yonge and Eglinton. She was taken to hospital and appeared to be recovering.

Commuters complained about a lack of communication, having entered the subway without prior knowledge that they’d soon be told to leave.

Bus shelters along Yonge were mobbed with angry riders, as buses packed with the luckier stranded passengers passed them by.

“It’s a real pain. I tried to get on a bus but they wouldn’t stop,” said Sheila Levitt, who was forced to walk. “I waved at them but they didn’t wave back. This is really not fair for the commuters.”

The Toronto Transit Commission said workers managed to temporarily repair the concrete area and the subway was reopened about six hours later.

Phoenix Aversa and Kayla Lynch-Plummer, two Northern Secondary School students walking south from Eglinton, couldn’t help but note how the disruption comes a day after the TTC hiked fares to $3 a ride.

“My mom pays for my TTC pass and it’s already expensive enough, especially since she is a single mother. Now she has to pay more, for her pass too, and its really not fair.”

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