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While travelling the subway, I often hear the announcement “99 Eglinton, 99 Eglinton” over the intercom

Dear Urban Decoder: While travelling the subway, I often hear the announcement “99 Eglinton, 99 Eglinton” over the intercom. I was once told this meant a passenger had jumped onto the tracks, but I certainly hope it isn’t true, considering how often I hear it. What’s the story?—Michelle Kelly, Bloor West Village

Contrary to urban legend, the oft-repeated 99 (a.k.a. 299) is not a harbinger of tragedy but a routine call for line mechanics to show up at a given station. Though the TTC does have a code (143) to summon its chief supervisor—the go-to person in any major service disruption—direct phone lines are generally used in emergency situations. Most of the codes you hear on a day-to-day basis are for people with less urgent functions: 722 is a call for the TTC’s crack squad of “lubricators” (a full-time SWAT team on the lookout for dry or rusty tracks), while 161 summons a passenger head-count specialist (whose findings help guide planning for future services). But these calls are rare in comparison with the universal 99. It’s no wonder: the TTC employs some 25 line mechanics (in 10-hour shifts) to deal with routine issues like jammed doors or flickering lights. Across the system, they often fix hundreds of small problems in a single day.

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