Squirrel Knocks out Streetcar Service for Morning Commute in Toronto

May 24, 2019

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

Squirrels and other rodents tend to get a bad rap, often for not good reason.  But, they do possess the ability to create difficulties around homes and even across entire cities.  Take Toronto’s east end, for instance, which experienced a power outage shortly after 6:30am Thursday morning thanks to a transformer fire caused by a squirrel.

Not only did the outage impact residents and businesses getting ready for their work days, it also shut down streetcar service because the streetcars couldn’t get out of the storage facility where they are kept.  TTC – the Toronto Transit Commission – deployed busses to help with commuter service, which it kept operating through the morning rush hour, even after streetcar service had been restored after a two-hour outage.

Most of the nearly 4,000 impacted customers had power restored within a few hours, but several hundred had to wait until late in the day while crews repaired damage, including replacing a utility pole and overhead wires.

This is just one example of the impact power outages can have on businesses and local or regional infrastructure.  But, the situation could be much worse.  Power outages present a very real threat to the technology and systems that keep businesses and governments operating, like the ones used to control streetcars and traffic lights. 

When spikes in power run through power lines and into businesses, they can damage sensitive circuits in hardware, including servers, switches, security and communications systems, and more.   While the circuits may be small, the impact of damage can be widespread and long-lasting, knocking entire businesses or organizations offline until repairs can be made.  That could take days or even weeks, depending on the damage and availability of replacement technology and service technicians, not to mention the time for configuration and restoration.

While outages and surges are beyond a business executive’s sphere of influence, budgets are not, and every business should have power protection systems installed to ensure the continuity of their operations.  These systems are specifically designed to regulate power into business systems, eliminating damaging fluctuations and should be on every business owner’s list of budgeting priorities.

Edited by Erik Linask