Could Tire Socks Make Thunder Bay Transit Safer?

Installing a tire sock takes about three minutes per tire.
Installing a tire sock takes about three minutes per tire.


THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay Transit offers service to many people in our city. Transit drivers are out in all kinds of weather, and in many cases, on routes where during the winter roads can make their jobs even more challenging.

While the Ontario Provincial Police suggest that during the winter people should put winter tires on their vehicles, transit buses don’t have winter tires.

This is apparently according to several sources at Thunder Bay Transit due to the cost.

Thunder Bay Transit is running.
Thunder Bay Transit

Thunder Bay Transit has a number of routes that when winter conditions hit the city hard, those routes are more difficult for drivers to navigate. The north-side of the city has hills to climb going up Red River Road, along the Hudson and the Crosstown routes. Having a safe, fast alternative like tire socks could make it safer for drivers, and for passengers.

There are alternatives which are being implemented and tested at transit systems in other cities. Additionally, the kevlar textile tire covers have been approved in some Canadian and American provinces and states for use on transport trucks as well. British Columbia approved this new idea in 2016, and in Alberta where there are no regulations requiring transport trucks to carry tire chains, law enforcement officers can allow the tire socks as an alternative.

The British Columbia Trucking Association says “With the recent approval of ‘textile tire covers’ for use on BC’s snowy roads, you may be looking at the possibility of outfitting your fleet with ‘snow socks’.”

Installing a tire sock takes about three minutes per tire.
Installing a tire sock takes about three minutes per tire.

But what are textile tire covers?

Textile tire covers or snow socks are fabric covers that slip over tires to provide additional traction in icy and snowy conditions. They are made from textiles with the fibres arranged at a right angle to the direction of travel, and they wick away water between the tire and the road, all of which creates improved grip. There are several brands on the market.

Snow socks are touted as being easier to install and remove than chains, as well as being lighter in weight and cheaper. European drivers have used them on passenger vehicles for more than a decade and the German technical inspection association TÜV has certified at least one brand for use on trucks and buses greater than 7,700 lbs.

Innovation for Safety and Rider Convenience

Thunder Bay Transit has implemented Nextlift, the Transit App, Bike Racks, and will be expanding the number of trash bins at bus stops. Perhaps in winter looking at testing Tire Socks could be a next good step to enhance safety for our transit service.