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Suspect threw cup of coffee at driver of TTC bus, police say

Police have released surveillance camera footage of a suspect who allegedly threw a cup of coffee at the driver of a TTC bus last month.

Police say the suspect boarded the Dufferin North 105 bus at Dufferin Street and Dufferin Hill Drive in Vaughan on the morning of June 8.

As the suspect was boarding the bus, police say the driver recognized him as someone who had been verbally abusive toward him and stolen a transfer slip one month prior.

The driver then told the suspect to leave, however police say he instead walked to the back of the bus.

At that point, the driver refused to leave until the man vacated the bus.

Police allege that the man then walked to the front of the bus and assaulted the driver by emptying a silver thermal travel mug filled with coffee onto the driver. The driver was not injured in the incident, police say.

“It is just completely inexplicable why anyone would do something like that. It is a very, very serious assault on our operator over what amounts to a couple of dollars,” TTC Spokesperson Brad Ross told CP24 on Wednesday. “If they are prepared to do that once than they are prepared to do that twice, so we want to get them off the street.”

The suspect is described as white, about five-foot-ten with a medium build and short dark-coloured hair. He was last seen wearing a black jacket, a blue shirt, dark-coloured pants, white running shoes and sunglasses. He was also seen carrying a black and white patterned bag.

Police say they have “exhausted all leads” and are releasing the surveillance footage in the hopes that someone will recognize the suspect.

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Inside the TTC’s fight to keep riders cool on Line 2

TTC staff have been feeling the heat — literally and figuratively.

As Toronto continues to experience the sweltering days of summer, transit maintenance staff are working feverishly to deal with “hot cars” on Line 2, the Bloor-Danforth subway line.

To get an understanding of what is involved with fixing the air conditioning units and maintaining the 370 older T-1 subway cars used on Line 2 and Line 4 (Sheppard), the Sun toured the TTC’s Greenwood subway yard with acting chief operating officer Mike Palmer and his staff.

Riders have unloaded their frustrations to the TTC on social media about the steaming ride in the up to 25% of Line 2 cars where the A/C isn’t working and staff are sensitive to the concerns.

“We really regret the situation we’re in and we are sorry. A lot of us use B-D everyday and we know what it’s like,” Palmer said. “We are taking the long-term view on this, fixing it and getting it right.”

With 42 six-car trains in service at the peak on Line 2 alone, taking trains out of service isn’t an option for the TTC.

So the TTC’s long-term solution? An accelerated maintenance plan that involves stripping and updating aging vehicle parts and systems.

Palmer said the plan seems to be working as 95% of the cars are now operating without issues.

The components that make up the air conditioning on the fleet (which is roughly 15 to 20 years old) of subway cars are intricate, and the work is intensive.

Underneath every subway car sits a 12-tonne air conditioning unit that blows cold air to the evaporators and fans in the roof of the car.

Crews at Greenwood and Davisville yards do a top-to-bottom check of each car every 33 days, on top of a daily safety check, and if issues are found staff will do an in-depth assessment.

Engineers will diagnose some components electronically, check parts with gauges, drain and perform an acid test on oil, recover Freon, flush the HVAC systems with a special solution and/or replace parts as needed. The whole process can take up to four days for one car.

“I think the guys here do miracles and a lot of them are giving up their weekends to help improve it,” Palmer said.

As trains rush down the tunnels, the vibration, debris and dirt can cause the air conditioning unit condensers to clog and the fins to bend, which can result in reduced efficiency or a shutdown.

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‘Brazen’ video shows ‘Pokémon GO’ player on TTC subway tracks

The TTC is calling a video showing a “Pokémon GO” player on the tracks at Union Station a “dangerous stunt.”

The minute-long video was posted Tuesday by a production company called the Noodle Boys, and is a satirical take on the popular obsession with Pokémon GO, the augmented reality game the launched earlier this month.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross called the video “a very, very dangerous stunt” and said its creators could be charged with trespassing, filming on the TTC without a permit, and various other bylaw infractions. Fines could be as high as $500.

“The blatant disregard for their own safety and the safety of others is baffling,” he said.

“Getting killed or seriously injured is something that people really need to think about. That’s at Union Station, trains come around corners there, they don’t have line of sight, suddenly somebody’s standing on the track? Boy, I just don’t get it,” he said. “It is as brazen as it gets.”

In addition to the safety risks, Ross said the video’s creators could also have caused a major delay to the transit system. If TTC staff see someone on the tracks, they’re supposed to immediately cut the power.

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Teens and Presto to blame for fare evasion: TTC union boss

Teenagers and a poorly-introduced Presto plan are to blame for wide spread fare evasion on the TTC, says transit workers’ union president Bob Kinnear.

Since the TTC stopped requiring children 12 and under to pay to ride the transit system in March 2015, there has been a “free-for-all” as drivers lack the ability to require children to produce identification, said Kinnear, head of Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113.

“Children 12 and under have suddenly tripled in our ridership,” he added. “You’ve got 15-year-old kids that have moustaches and beards saying, ‘I’m 12 years old,’ knowing full well … there’s nothing you can do.”

TTC’s own website even states: “If you are between 13 and 15 years old, you do not need identification to travel.”

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) offers select students with longer travel distances 10 free TTC tickets each week but some don’t even use them.

One 13-year-old, who didn’t want to be named, said his friends never pay to ride the TTC.

“I’ve had a couple of friends who are taller and they’ve stopped them and just said, ‘You’ve got to pay next time.’”

Kinnear, meanwhile, said he believes the Presto card transformation has been “extremely detrimental” to TTC ridership numbers, essentially offering up freebies.

He added that “90% of our system isn’t set up for Presto although we’re recognizing it on 100 per cent of the system.

“I’ve been told for the last couple of months that (TTC operators) are being advised that if anybody has a Presto card, you’re to let them go through if the station or vehicle is not equipped.”

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How Riding the TTC Has Affected My Mental Health

Every day, I spend nearly four hours on the TTC. I’m from the east end and I work in west end, and travel is about two hours one way. Being underground for such a long time complicates a lot of my everyday functioning. I can’t eat, drink, or nap on the subway without a high level of anxiety. It’s grim and gloomy down there. Sometimes, I feel like I’m being buried alive in a mobile cemetery because I’m exhausted from the confinement.

Public transit has always been a hot topic for debate among politicians, media pundits, advocates, and commuters like me. But left out of most conversations has been the impact the TTC has on the mental health of Torontonians—especially those from low-income neighbourhoods with long commutes.

Long commutes are unfortunately a commonality that many people who live in the suburbs have learned to accept and endure. A poll conducted by Forum Research in 2013 found residents of Scarborough have an average commute length of 49 minutes. By comparison, those who live in the City have an average commute of 39 minutes. Six out of 10 surveyed in this poll of more than 1,500 residents said their quality of life—that is, time spent with family, going to the gym, and relaxing—was reduced as a result of their commute.

Wendy Le, a first-year university student who lives in the western part of North York, has a commute of up to two hours as she often travels downtown and to Scarborough for school. As a result of her commute and school schedule, Wendy doesn’t participate in extracurricular activities.

“The exhaustion I feel after some morning commutes affects me because there are a lot of things to tackle during the day, and that requires energy and concentration…[with my] commute, the quality of [my school work] gets compromised,” she explains.

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Buses replace streetcars on St. Clair, while Bathurst-College shuts down

Streetcars on St. Clair are being replaced by buses, and a major downtown intersection shuts down to traffic on Monday for TTC work.

Just six years after it opened, the TTC shutdown the 6.6-kilotmetre dedicated stretch of streetcar lanes starting Sunday so that changes can be made to accommodate the TTC’s new streetcars.

The new streetcars are set to roll on St. Clair in 2018, and the retrofit is required for customer safety.

During the closure, streetcars on the 512 route will be replaced by buses until Sept. 4.

The TTC released a video explaining the work being done. Watch it below or click here to view it.

The St. Clair and St Clair West stations also have to be modified.

At St. Clair station, crews will install a new roof and replace the streetcar loading platform, while at St. Clair West station the work includes construction of new elevators and replacing streetcar tracks.

Some of the work won’t be completed until the end of the year, but streetcar tracks between St. Clair West and Gunns Loop should be back in service by Labour Day.

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Trending: Entire TTC streetcar belts out Happy Birthday to driver

YouTube is packed with TTC videos, and they usually involve some extreme form of anti-social behaviour.

Type “TTC” into the site’s search function and you’ll find gems like: Insane TTC bus driver, drunk people on TTC bus – driver snaps, and drunk bus fight on the vomit comet.

That’s why the following video may just restore your faith in humanity, or at least help reverse the notion that drunken troglodytes and frothing-at-the-mouth drivers have totally taken over our public transit system.

No, this video doesn’t include titillating violence or a cellphone stool pigeon desperately trying to catch a TTC driver in the midst of a compromising tantrum.

On the contrary, it’s simply a nice, feel-good moment.

The video, posted on Monday by Matthew Bradley, shows a packed streetcar singing happy birthday to the vehicle’s driver, Sean.

It has just over 100 views so far.

That’s not a lot of hits for a video that doesn’t include hits – or puke, or spit, or a maniacal melt-down – but for those in need of a reminder that kindness and public transit can still co-exist, it hits the spot.

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TTC staff suggest destroying mature woodlot to build Scarborough subway

Building a Scarborough subway could destroy part of a mature woodlot residents of Scarborough fought to save, Toronto Deputy Mayor Glenn De Baeremaeker says.

That’s something he won’t allow, he added this week.

“We will not be cutting down any of those trees,” De Baeremaeker said.

“Never in a million years would we destroy that forest.”

A TTC board member and champion of the proposed one-stop extension from Kennedy station to Scarborough Town Centre, De Baeremaeker confirmed TTC staff told him there are just two possible staging areas near the Town Centre for subway construction.

One is the gas bar and a strip plaza facing the woodlot on the south side of Ellesmere Road west of McCowan Road. Tenants of that commercial plaza appeared at a public meeting in Scarborough last week, asking about compensation if the City of Toronto forces them out.

The other choice, he said, is the woodlot, part of a five-hectare park between Ellesmere and Borough Drive.

The subway, according to the alignment revealed at the meeting, would have to cross under part of the woodlot and reach a parking lot of the shopping mall under part of Borough Drive. TTC officials said no other paths for the subway are possible without shutting down the aging Scarborough Rapid Transit line during five or six years of construction.

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TTC letter warns homeowners their houses might be expropriated for Scarborough subway

Subway extension’s path not official, yet residents get notices that their houses might be taken. One warns: ‘I’m not going, they’re going to kill me to take me out of here.”

Scott Cole of Scarborough has received a letter warning of possible expropriation of his house to make room for the new Scarborough subway. Cole, however, says he doesn't want $2 million or even $3 million -- he's staying.
Scott Cole of Scarborough has received a letter warning of possible expropriation of his house to make room for the new Scarborough subway. Cole, however, says he doesn’t want $2 million or even $3 million — he’s staying. 
Vivek Bhatt of Scarborough got a registered letter warning him that his house might be expropriated for the Scarborough subway.
Vivek Bhatt of Scarborough got a registered letter warning him that his house might be expropriated for the Scarborough subway.  

Residents on a quiet Scarborough street, some who have lived there for four decades, have received letters from the TTC warning them their houses might be expropriated to make room for the new subway extension.

“I’m not going, they’re going to kill me to take me out of here,” Scott Cole said Monday, after receiving a letter on May 25 from the “Toronto Transit Commission” informing him that the bungalow he’s lived in on Stanwell Dr. for 26 years might be subject to a “Property Acquisition Process.”

There has been no official approval of the subway alignment — running north-south under McCowan Rd., which the homes back onto — that would affect these homeowners, but they’re now convinced it’s a done deal.

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