Toronto’s new streetcars won’t hit the rails for years, but transit junkies can get a taste of the future this weekend. Visitors to the TTC’s Hillcrest facility will be able to venture inside a realistic model of the new vehicles well ahead of their 2013 debut.
The Bombardier-produced streetcars will replace the CLRV and ALRV streetcars, which have been in service since 1979 and 1987. A lot has changed in 22 years, so naturally the new streetcars will be a major leap in technology and design from Toronto’s earlier models.
While the TTC’s largest current streetcars, the ALRVs, feature a single articulation, the new models will have four. They’ll also be completely low-floor, bringing full accessibility to the streetcar network. Disabled passengers will enter through the wide second door, where a retractable ramp will facilitate boarding and flip up seats will offer open space to park wheelchairs.
Rather than lining up at the front doors to pay, passengers will pay at machines on board or on the street at major stops, with inspectors conducting fare enforcement on a proof of payment basis. By eliminating fare payment lineups and enabling passengers to board at all four doors without climbing any stairs, loading and unloading passengers should be significantly faster. Notably, the proof of payment system will require the TTC to convert to time-based transfers that will work sort of like a short-term pass, allowing passengers to enter and leave the system until they expire. Typicallty time-based trasfers last for 90 minutes or two hours.
Since drivers won’t handle fares, they’ll be separated from passengers by a glass door. Video screens inside will give them a live feed from the various cameras around the streetcar.
The city’s streetcar routes are notorious for crush loads, so the higher capacity of the longer streetcars, with seating for 70 and standing room for 181 more, will also be welcome. The additional size will also allow passengers to bring their bikes on board outside of peak periods. And in the summer months streetcar passengers will at last be able to enjoy air conditioning. To help keep things cool inside, doors will only open when a rider pushes one of the buttons installed on the inside and outside of each entryway.
While the new streetcar fleet will begin delivery in 2013, some routes will get service long before others. Dundas, Spadina and Bathurst will get the first batch in 2014, while riders on the Carlton car will have to wait until 2018.
The mock-up will be on public display at the TTC’s Hillcrest facility November 12-15, from 10 AM – 7 PM each day. More details are available on the TTC’s Meet Your New Ride website.