TTC officials are calling on commuters to be patient as they deal with weekend subway closures throughout the year — all part of a major upgrade to the rail system.

Including this weekend, the city is planning 38 subway service disruptions before the end of 2016, including seven weekends in a row during April and May. 

"We're asking people to bear with us now," TTC CEO Andy Byford told reporters on Saturday from deep beneath the city, where he had invited the media to walk the subway tracks and get a sense of the work being done. "It will be worth the wait." 


A TTC maintenance worker on the job this weekend. (CBC)

By 2019, this overhaul will increase transit capacity in the city by 25 per cent and get people moving faster, Byford vowed.

While maintenance work is getting done every night after the subway closes, the TTC says one weekend of work during a closure is equivalent to about five weeks of nightly work. 

"As much as it inconveniences our customers to shut down a subway line for a weekend, the amount of work we can get done to make the system more reliable is really significant and and monumental and will provide better service going forward," TTC chair Josh Colle said.  


TTC workers perform subway track maintenance on Line 1. (CBC)

"I liken it to having a house with a furnace that's 50 years old. You can't just leave that be if you want to have an efficient house."

This weekend, there isn't any subway service on Line 1 between St. George and Lawrence West stations as work crews lay some 11,000 metres of cable for a new signal system, replace over 800 metres of track and perform other maintenance work including station cleaning.

This kind of work is especially important with the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension underway and SmartTrack construction on the horizon, Byford said. 

"There's no point in having a shiny new extension or a shiny new line if the existing system is falling apart."

The next major scheduled service disruptions are:

  • March 19-20: Line 1 – St. George to Lawrence West closure
  • April 2: Line 2 - Kennedy to Victoria Park closure
  • April 3: Line 2 - Pape to St. George late opening