1 of 15
2 of 15
3 of 15
4 of 15
5 of 15
6 of 15
7 of 15
8 of 15
9 of 15
10 of 15
11 of 15
12 of 15
13 of 15
14 of 15
15 of 15
Politicians, city officials, and transit watchers packed into the carhouse at the TTC's Hillcrest facility Thursday morning for a sneak preview of the commission's new streetcars.
A visibly chuffed TTC chair Karen Stintz reminded the assembled crowd that while the past year has been a tumultuous one for Toronto transit, the city should be proud of its trolley heritage.
"Toronto is a leader when it comes to streetcar technology," she said, and transit authorities around the world come to the TTC for advice on surface rail.
Billed as the next generation of surface transit, the new vehicles offer many improvements over the TTC's current fleet that are intended to improve accessibility, comfort, and passenger capacity. They include:
- low floor, no-step boarding
- air conditioning
- boarding at all four doors, using the new Presto card system
- designated areas for bikes, scooters, and wheelchairs
- extra-wide passenger doors
- rubber-cushioned steel wheels to reduce ground vibration
- 70 seats
- maximum standing capacity of 181
- service speed of 70 km/h (although according to the speedometer in the front control booth, they peak at 90 km/h)
With an ability to carry 68 more passengers than the articulated streetcars now in service, and boasting boarding at all doors, it's hoped that the longer 30.2-metre vehicles will carry more people, more quickly than the existing fleet, with minimal disruption to car traffic.
The first of 204 streetcars ordered from Bombardier will hit the rails for test runs in 2013, likely on the Spadina and Bathurst routes, but they won't see revenue service until 2014. By 2017 or 2018, the hope is they will have completely replaced the TTC's existing streetcars.
The streetcars were ordered in 2008 and cost $1.2 billion. The city originally banked on splitting the cost three ways with the provincial and federal governments, but Ottawa pulled out, leaving the city to cover two-thirds of the cost.