TTC turns to federal researchers amid new complaints about excessive subway noise, vibration
The Toronto Transit Commission has turned to engineering experts for help in determining what’s behind excessive subway noise and vibration amid recent complaints from several Danforth neighbourhood residents saying the problem has returned.
“[Subway trains] are part of life here, but it was very rare to notice them. Maybe if everything was quiet in the house, if nobody was talking, you might hear a bit of a rumble,” Chet Wydrzynski, who lives steps from Greenwood station, told Global News.
“Now in the last four to five weeks it’s really gotten exponentially louder. You’re hearing almost every train every three, four or five minutes depending on the schedule.
“My mom lives in Windsor and has probably visited me 40 or 50 times over the last few years, and stays overnight, she’s never mentioned the subway before. But it’s woken her up twice lately just in the last few days she’s been visiting.”
With subway trains running for 19 to 20 hours a day, Wydrzynski said the noise and vibration has woken him up at night.
“The old sound that you might hear very occasionally was sort of a low rumble, you might not even feel it — it’s just sort of something in the background, but … multiple times an hour the windows are shaking, the walls are shaking,” he said.
David Nesbitt, who has lived next to Wydrzynski’s house for more than 25 years, said the recent noise and vibration issues are a new phenomena.
“You hear the low kind of constant noise of the train, but then it gets louder and louder and then it becomes more instead of an even sound it becomes more of a… pulsating sound as they put the brakes on, I think, coming into the station,” he said.
“In the office there was a plastic tub full of magic markers and in the middle of the night, it vibrated off the shelf. It’s not like your grandma’s china, but that’s pretty unusual to have stuff vibrating off the shelf.”
In October, the TTC said it received a slew of similar complaints about noise. The transit agency said the noise was being caused by “wheel flats,” flat spots developing on subway car wheels.
Staff said special monitoring devices check wheels for issues and determine which ones are in need of work, a process called “truing.” For wheels that require maintenance, a machine makes the necessary fixes to return the wheels to their original specifications, which minimizes noise and vibrations.
TTC spokesperson Stuart Green told Global News in a statement that staff haven’t been able to identify the cause of the “wheel flats.” In fact, the transit agency has turned to experts at the National Research Council of Canada (NRCC) in January to probe the issue.
“We are working again on truing while we try and identify the root causes. There should now be a reduction in excessive noise and vibration from the flats. We can’t say when this will be completely resolved,” he said.
A spokesperson for the NRCC said the organization conducts “scientific and technical research and testing in its facilities” for various clients. He said he was unable to get into the process and results of the testing due to a non-disclosure agreement, something commonly put in place with its clients.
Meanwhile, Wydrzynski and Nesbitt said they feel their complaints have gone largely unattended to. They said whatever the cause is, they hope there’s a solution soon.
“It’s part of living here, I understand that, but it’s never interfered with our life,” Wydrzynski said.
“I understand money is tight in their budget and they have a lot of track to maintain, but I guess they have to make a priority of figuring it out. It’s a bit like detective work … We’re here to say it’s loud and vibrating,” Nesbitt said.
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