Toronto, Canada

Toronto Transit


The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is the main provider of public transit for the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  It operates transit bus, streetcar, and subway services, carrying an average of 2.76 million passengers per day.

TTC’s network includes four rapid transit lines with 69 stations and 700 transit cars, over 149 bus routes with 1800 buses, and 11 streetcar lines with 250 streetcars, as well as a door-to-door paratransit service for the elderly and disabled known as Wheel-Trans.

TTC operates the third most heavily used urban mass transit system in North America after New York City Transit Authority and Mexico City Metro.Their goal:  To provide a reliable, efficient, and integrated bus, streetcar, and subway network that draws its high standards of customer care from its rich traditions of safety, service, and courtesy.

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Toronto Transit

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Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) makes extensive use of radio communications for transit operations, maintenance, and incident management.  TTC had five distinct radio systems to facilitate two-way voice and some minor data communications between users in the field and various dispatchers:

  • Conventional UHF System (voice/paging)
  • Subway UHF MPT1327 System (voice & data)
  • Conventional UHF System (Scarborough Rapid Transit – dedicated LRT) (voice)
  • Hybrid Trunked UHF System (bus and streetcar AVL & voice communications)
  • Conventional VHF System (voice)

While Toronto’s transit system has grown alongside the city’s expanding population, the metro’s legacy communication systems struggled to cope with the increased needs. Additional safety and operating procedures had pushed out-dated radio systems to their capacity demanding wide-scale replacement.The TTC Radio Replacement Project was created to provide an enterprise digital radio network to incorporate all existing TTC radio systems into one.

After looking at narrow-banding options, TTC decided that the greater capacity offered by a trunked digital system would make the best use of the available frequencies.

The benefits TTC sought to obtain included:

  • Most effective use of frequency spectrum (channel sharing)
  • Private data capabilities (GPS, SCADA)
  • Support large-scale capacity to meet ever increasing user needs
  • Interoperability between all users at RF level
  • Additional features (SDS, AVL, Call ID, individual/group calling, etc.)
  • Minimal number of radio sites/systems/user sets and redundant equipment

Having considered a range of professional digital technologies, TETRA was found to be the best fit for its requirements.

Transit Operation Monitoring and Management

TTC aims to utilize the TETRA network to provide centralized monitoring and control of a wide variety of aspects such as:

  • Access control/alarms (doors, gates, …)
  • Various points on subway & streetcar traction power grid
  • Subway tunnel ventilation fans
  • Underground pumps and sub-pumps,
  • Lighting systems
  • Building HVAC systems
  • It’s important to also realize that SCADA over TETRA can be used where running a wired connection is not feasible or where cost- prohibitive:
  • New devices are added constantly to the subway yard tracks that require monitoring/control (e.g., track switch heaters).  Running new fibre or wires to these remote and hard to reach locations is difficult, whereas TETRA devices are easily deployed and powered.
  • Monitoring of devices/systems in at short-term leased properties where further investments are not warranted or approved.


In 2013, TTC partnered with Sepura to implement their new TETRA infrastructure providing voice and data services both underground for the metro and above ground for TTC’s bus and tram networks, as well as the Wheel-Trans accessible transit service. The project is now managed by PowerTrunk and has evolved significantly as the the Radio Replacement Project was phase 1 of a multi-year project with several phases and contracts.

Phase 1 was for the TETRA infrastructure and includes a redundant core TETRA network with 36 base stations, 10 of which are installed for outdoor coverage across the Greater Toronto Area, and 26 installed underground for subway communications

.This included gateways to the control rooms, telephone system, and legacy radio networks (conventional and MPT1327) for a seamless transition.

Phase 2 included integration to TTC’s Integrated Communications System (ICS). The ICS handles all telephone, radio, public address, and paging communications for subway/SRT and surface operations.  TTC integrated all voice and data features of the new TETRA network into the ICS.

Next, TTC issued a new RFP for subscriber radios and awarded the contract to PowerTrunk, who supplied 1000 hand-portable and 600 mobile radios – specially configured for bus and tramway systems – to boost communications across the network.

Phase 4 includes the deployment of the radios in the TTC subway fleet, including their Toronto Rocket (TR), T1 subway, and SRT trains and work cars.

Concurrently, TTC expanded the TETRA network by adding a number of base stations and additional carriers to support their newly awarded Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) project.  This included a further 2,400 mobile TETRA radios which will allow operators to track vehicles in real time and facilitate remote communication tasks.  A further 2,000 Sepura hand-portable STP9000 radios will expand communication with metro staff and eventually replace some analog data communications systems.


The system has provided coverage for TTC’s operational area in greater Toronto, and was the first TETRA network deployed by a transport organization in Canada, enabling TTC to enjoy the benefits that TETRA has already brought to the transportation sector around the world:

01 A private communication system fully controlled and maintained by the end user
02 Four-slot TDMA technology that simplifies radio site design and requires significantly less space than digital radio systems

03 A greater degree of spectral efficiency, compared with other digital radio systems
04 Simultaneous voice, data, and location services over a single network

Technology that we used

TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) is the accepted digital radio standard for critical communications. TETRA is an open standard where the focus is on meeting the critical communications needs of public safety and security agencies and an increasingly wide range of other market sectors. The technology has been standardized by ETSI (The European Telecommunications Standards Institute).


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