public transit delays canada

Horrific public transit delays now just part of daily life in Canada

With planes, trains and automobiles, bikes, boats and subway systems, getting from point A to point B has never been easier for humankind.

Never has it been so infuriating, either.

Canada's population is growing faster than its infrastructure can handle, putting increased pressure on housing markets, the healthcare system, schools, the environment, roads and public services.

But nowhere can the pinch can be felt and observed more acutely than on public transit vehicles in large urban centres at rush hour.

Toronto, like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, New York, and other global cities that are impossible to get around by car, has a subway system that hundreds of thousands of citizens rely on for their daily commutes.

Unlike the places mentioned above, Canada's largest city has only a handful of subway lines with which to serve its booming population.

Overcrowding is a major problem in Toronto, where a single accident, technical glitch or storm holds the power to close off massive chunks of the TTC for hours at a time.

In the nation's capital of Ottawa, issues with doors on the city's Light Rail Transit vehicles have been causing significant, system-wide delays and stoppages in recent weeks.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told city staffers earlier this month to "solve this damn door issue once and for all" after someone tried to jam one open during the commute, yet again, rendering powerless the city's high-tech, $2.1 billion LRT system.

Immobilized trains continue to regularly gum up the system, however, frustrating commuters to the point where local mental health centres are encouraging people to call their hotlines in cases of extreme anxiety.

And it's not just the shiny new LRT system that's making commuters rage. Like Toronto, Ottawa sees its fair share of bus problems, too.

Vancouver's TransLink public transit system, while better than most in Canada, is not immune to the problems that come along with transporting a fast-growing number of people around a major metropolitan area.

A report set to be released by TransLink tomorrow shows that bus wait times across Metro Vancouver have gotten significantly longer over the past half decade.

"Eighty percent of the region's bus routes are slower today than they were five years ago, due in large part to increased roadway congestion and lack of sufficient bus priority," reads the report.

"The negative effect on customers is not only longer and less reliable journey times, but also longer waits and increased overcrowding due to bus bunching."

In Montreal, passengers are the leading cause of delays on the city's Metro delays.

Like Ottawa, the blocking of train doors is a problem in Quebec's largest urban centre. So too are things like passenger illnesses, which sometimes prompt the shutdown of entire subway lines.

It seems as though transit delays simply can't be avoided in cities of more than one million people — which, ironically, are where many people move for work (and then find themselves late all the time.)

Calgary Transit has problems of its own, including a lack of space on bus routes and some very gross passenger behaviour.

Same goes for Winnipeg, where delays are frequent and weather conditions can make it tricky for transit vehicles to function.

Edmonton's ETS has been panned by many on Twitter as the worst public transit service in all of Canada

In smaller markets where motorists make up the bulk of commuter traffic, transit is often unreliable, underfunded and fails to meet the needs of those who require it the most.

So, while subway delays are annoying AF, I suppose those who are impacted by them should be happy they live in a place where subways even exist at all. 

Or, maybe not.

Lead photo by

Chris Kemp

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