Toronto's transit issues have been getting a lot of attention recently, and for good reason. With congestion plaguing the GTHA, improved public transit is an essential component of easing travel in the region. Starting in 2014 one of the TTC's answers will be the introduction of new longer streetcars along its routes, increasing capacity and service reliability if not frequency.

TTC, Streetcar, Metrolinx, City of Toronto, BombardierNew Low Floor Streetcar, image courtesy of the TTC

In total, 204 new Low Floor Streetcars (LFLRVs) are on order and in production at Bombardier Inc.'s plant in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The current fleet of 195 CLRVs (regular streetcars) and 52 ALRVs (articulated streetcars) can carry a maximum of 132 and 205 people respectively. The new vehicles will carry upwards of 257 passengers with room for bikes and wheelchairs.

TTC, Streetcar, Metrolinx, City of Toronto, BombardierSeating and Door configuration for the new streetcars, image courtesy of the TTC

After much speculation about the rollout of the new LFLRVs, the TTC released its Streetcar Renewal Program. Included in this $2 billion plan are all capital costs for the vechicles, facilities, upgrades for the system. The entire delivery of the new vehicles and phasing out of the old ones is expected to last until 2019. The ALRVs will be phased out first due to reliability issues, followed by the CLRVs towards the end of the decade.

To prepare for their delivery, the TTC has been undertaking entensive maintenance and upgrade programs of the overhead wiring on its network. The new streetcars will draw 50% more current and will ultimately use a pantograph system versus the antiquated trolley poles on the current fleet. To accommodate wheelchairs and accessibility features, curb cuts and road modification will also be carried out. The map below shows an estimate of the upgrading timelines for the overhead work across the network.

TTC, Streetcar, City of TorontoScheduling map of overhead wiring replacement for the TTC streetcar network, image courtesy of the TTC

TTC, Streetcar, City of TorontoTrolley Pole (Left) versus Pantograph (Right) power delivery system, image courtesy of the TTC

With work soonest to be completed on the Bathurst and Spadina upgrades, these routes will be the first to see the new vehicles in service, followed by the Harbourfront line coinciding with the completion of the Queens Quay Revitalization in 2014. Service with the new cars will then roll out to Dundas (2014/2015), Queen/Lakeshore (2015/2016), King (2016/2017), St. Clair (2017/2018), Downtowner (2018), Kingston Road (2018) and finally Carlton (2018/2019). Given the recent delays with construction of the new Leslie Barns Storage and Maintainance Facility, the spare tracks at the CNE loop may be used to store some vehicles.

TTC, Streetcar, City of TorontoLeslie Barns Storage and Maintenance Facility, image courtesy of the TTC

One of the most important features of the new fleet is the new fare system used. On each vehicle will be two Single Ride Vending Machines and Ticket Validators (SVRMs), where passengers can purchase/validate fares using PRESTO, cash, credit/debit, tokens, passes and tickets during the transition phase to PRESTO.  PRESTO machines will also be located at each door for quick boarding. At 75 of the busiest stops on the network SVRMs will also be placed to facilitate preboarding purchase.

TTC, Streetcar, Metrolinx, City of TorontoSimilar reference systems for the TTC fare vending machines and ticket validators, image courtesy of the TTC

While wait times will be slightly longer, the new larger fleet will bring increased capacity and better vehicle reliability getting Toronto moving faster. As the streetcars make their way onto Toronto's streets and the TTC completes its upgrades, Urban Toronto will keep you posted with the latest news.