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A First Look at the TTC’s New “Open Concept” Subway Cars

The TTC unveiled its new subway trains earlier today, in a press conference at Downsview station that had bemused commuters wandering in from the other side of the platform, where the existing subway was in regular service. Mayor David Miller joined TTC Chair Adam Giambrone and representatives of the federal and provincial governments to show off the new cars, and told the throng of reporters and subway riders that the new subway trains represented “the continued revitalization of the lifeblood of Toronto, which is the Toronto Transit Commission.”
The six-car vehicles come complete with such technological bells and whistles as voice-activated passenger alarms, closed-circuit surveillance cameras, and LED screens that display service updates. Recorded announcements tell riders which side doors will open on, and blinking route maps show the train’s next stop and direction of travel.
“It’s really something else,” said subway driving instructor Kevin Brown, who helped test the new vehicles and whose father drove the first G-class subway train from Eglinton to Union Station in 1954. “You’re going ahead twenty or twenty-five years with this thing.”

One thing you won’t find on the new trains are walls separating the cars. The interior space is connected by wide gangways, making the entire train—all four-hundred-and-fifty feet, two inches of it—one giant hallway. Also missing are the centre poles, replaced by a set of ceiling-mounted grips. The point of all this is to make room for a lot more people—one hundred per car. That’s an eight to ten percent increase over current trains.
For TTC lines already packed beyond capacity, fitting more people in each car is one of the chief ways to keep up with ridership growth. The other is Automatic Train Control, a new signaling system meant to let the TTC safely pack subway tunnels with more trains running in tighter sync. Miller expressed high hopes that the new trains would ease congestion on the TTC’s most overcrowded line. “When they’re fully implemented with Automatic Train Control, the capacity of the Yonge-University line will probably increase by thirty percent,” he said.
Accessibility is another major focus of the design. The roomy interiors include more dedicated spaces for wheelchairs, whose locations are indicated by blue lights on the trains’ exteriors. Carol Anne Monet, a member and former chair of the TTC’s fifteen-member Advisory Committee on Accessible Transportation, talked to us about ACAT’s role in planning the accessibility features: “It was great, we made suggestions for people with hearing impairments and with visual impairments…and it’s great to see all those suggestions incorporated.”
Monet voiced some disappointment that the new trains would not roll out on the Bloor-Danforth or Sheppard subway lines. “It would be better,” she said. “Of course, the cost is prohibitive.”
Riders on the Yonge-University-Spadina line will be able to catch glimpses of the new trains over the next two months as they undergo testing, but TTC representatives say they won’t be in regular service likely until some time around March 2011. If you can’t wait that long, you may be able to step on board at an “open house” that the TTC plans to hold sometime in the next two weeks.
Photos by Christopher Drost/Torontoist.


  • http://undefined Stephanie

    I still say that my dream job is to drive a streetcar or a subway train for the TTC. Lovely new trains. :)

  • Miles Storey

    It looks angry.

  • http://undefined Harry Choi


  • http://undefined Vincent Clement

    It appears that the seat at the front of the subway has been replaced with a cab. That was the best seat in the house – and sometimes you got to chat with the driver.

  • http://undefined mark.

    These look great! I so wish the regular media covered the lead up to the arrival of these new subway cars. Aren’t we getting new streetcars too?

  • Stells Bells

    I think the lack of some sort of handhold in the centre of the train is going to be an issue. I am just picturing an extra 100 people per car with nothing to hang on to and flopping around like crazy when the train comes to an abrupt stop.

  • http://undefined deadrobot

    Already planning my Improv Everywhere Bowling Tournament!

  • http://undefined Junction416

    Stells Bells,
    There are handholds in the centre on the ceiling. Look at picture #5.

  • accozzaglia

    I am loving this!

  • http://undefined thestatesman

    Cute lil thing. I just want to play with it. Now if only they could come up with some sort of fence so people don’t drop their metropasses down there.

  • g026r

    From what I recall of earlier articles/reports: a decent enough number of passengers surveyed strongly disliked the passenger-visible front window, which is why that’s been replaced by a cab.

  • http://undefined Matthew

    For those tall enough to grab hold of them. The bars allowed people of various height to grab onto something.

  • http://undefined dowlingm

    Lots of TTC cars (the T1s) lack centre poles already in favour of overhead grab rail. Personally I prefer the ceiling mounted as it massively reduces the floorspace where there is no pole to grab at all.

  • Nick

    Sleek! And 1200 jobs were saved in Thunder Bay – yay!

  • http://undefined rek

    The middle poles caused more problems than they’re worth, blocking people with strollers and luggage (who then block people), becoming obstacles if you need to use an alternate door, and a barrier between the cramped doors and sparse interior during rush hour.
    This ceiling bar looks to be the same height as the one in existing cars, and those looped grips swing down.

  • http://undefined Ean
    I love that we’ll have a clean new train to ride in. Too bad about the rest of the TTC.
    Also, 25 years ahead? Of 1950 maybe…

  • http://undefined Brad Ross

    There were plenty of media there today. New streetcars start to arrive in 2012/13

  • http://undefined vanessakay

    Yes Ean, old things look old. Thanks for that insightful discovery. I can’t wait for tomorrow, when you post the second part of your little photo essay: “Things that are new, look new.”
    Just fascinating Ean. Thanks so much. How would Torontoist ever survive without you?

  • Michael Brown

    Those red chairs look like fabric…Is it fabric or vinyl? Please let it be vinyl…vinyl is so much easier to clean…think of all the smells and nasties that fabric can and does absorb…gross!

  • http://undefined Ean

    You’ve constructed quite the lovely straw-man there.
    This tin man has no heart, apparently. And as lovely as your version of the universe is, it’s wrong. I wrote that the trains are not really advanced. What they’re doing is politique. It’s not something new and advanced. It’s a train that would have been new a few decades ago.
    These days it seems a bit dated. I mean, as I’ve said I’m happy that we’ll have something newer and cleaner to ride in, but it’s not high-tech or anything. It’s not world-class.
    As well, it indeed is shitty that they don’t you know, wipe down the walls once a month or something. That dirt has been there for years.

  • http://undefined rek

    I’d like to know what these trains are lacking that “world class” trains apparently have. Where are the cutting edge subway trains running?

  • http://undefined Ioana

    Err, how tall do you have to be to reach those grips? I never was able to reach them with more than the tips of my fingers. I’m 5’2.

  • http://undefined thelemur

    Unfortunately it looks like it’s just a new version of that short-pile fuzzy stuff that’s already on some subway seats.

  • accozzaglia

    I would hope and expect the social protocol of using the pull-down handles and poles will be self-explanatory to taller people such as myself: use the pull-downs, or give as much space as possible on the poles while reaching high. Or, as is sometimes the case, free-balance oneself.

  • accozzaglia

    I suspect it will lack “world class” amenities such as IEEE802.20 wifi, flat-screens with the BBC World Service news, and computerized bidets.

  • http://undefined thelemur

    The Rocket design, including many of its features, is based on Bombardier’s Movia, which is already in service, or will be going into service, in several cities with existing ‘world class’ transit systems.
    The walls may not be clean, but the desired level of cleanliness depends on what you plan to do with them.

  • http://undefined Ean

    LOL @ So many defenses of it.
    Well, you’re not being honest with yourselves. This stuff has been out there for a while. Automatic signals and signage that updates with your destination has been done, and done for a long time in many countries.
    So pretending it’s something new is disingenuous.
    Now, is it new for Canada? Sure. :)

  • http://undefined Ean

    I’m disappointed by this too. I liked seeing where I was going. It makes subway surfing that much easier (standing without gripping the poles.) :D
    It also gives you something to look at when everyone is tired and awkward and doesn’t want to look at each-other.

  • http://undefined Ean

    ITP: Someone who doesn’t believe in short people. :)

  • http://undefined Jos

    Look at your comment. Back to mine. Back to yours NOW BACK TO MINE. Sadly, it isn’t mine. But if you stopped trolling and started posting legitimate crap it could LOOK like mine. Look down, back up, where are you? You’re scrolling through comments, finding the ones that your comment could look like. Back at mine, what is it? It’s a highly effective counter-troll. Look again, MY COMMENT IS NOW DIAMONDS.
    Anything is possible when you think before you comment or post.
    I’m on a computer.

  • http://undefined rek

    So far you haven’t said anything of substance. Being in use elsewhere means it isn’t world class? Being a few years old means it isn’t state of the art for subway systems? Say something more worthwhile than lol toronto omg.

  • http://undefined Ean

    rek: Hahahha. Well the technologies in question being in use for MANY not a few years in other countries (but not necessarily Bombardier models) means it’s definitely nothing new. I don’t know what you’re saying.
    Did I ever say, ‘lol toronto omg’? No. :P
    Jos: No trolling here, just you. Nice comment though. Very topical.
    Look guys, I’m as enamored as you are to have new transit vehicles. I also call a spade a spade. And this is neither advanced nor 25 years ahead of its time.
    Enjoy your troll thread.

  • http://undefined EricSmith

    I wonder what “voice-activated passenger alarms” are, exactly.

  • thelemur

    When and where exactly has anyone so far said that these features were world firsts rather than just new to Toronto?
    Okay, aside from the instructor talking about going 20-25 years ahead with these things, because it’s not clear whether he’s talking about being ahead of the present day or just more modern than the current H-series or M1s?

  • http://undefined EricSmith

    aside from the instructor talking about going 20-25 years ahead with these things, because it’s not clear whether he’s talking about being ahead of the present day or just more modern than the current H-series or M1s?

    I took it as obvious that the instructor was comparing the new train to the vehicles with which he had experience.

    As for Ean’s contention that the new design is “outdated,” well, that’s just silly. Automatic train control and a continuous interior are entirely contemporary features.

  • http://undefined torontothegreat
  • qviri

    I wonder how often they will false alarm. And if not often, how often will they true alarm.

  • http://undefined EricSmith

    I assume that they’re speaker-phones, and only voice-activated in the sense that you don’t have to keep the call button pushed while you’re talking, as you would with a walkie-talkie.

    Typical of the gibberish produced by non-technical writers of press releases (technical writers produce entirely different gibberish).

  • http://undefined Ean

    Good point. He may be using those as his reference point. I thought the comment was silly though as that still means we’re just playing catch-up.
    As for outdated, I didn’t mean that and it’s pretty silly to claim that at the same time. I’d say those features are… somewhat current. Not really forward-thinking but not really out of date either.
    I don’t see the huge deal, let’s put it that way.

  • http://undefined Laura Leung

    It’s true! In China, they have great underground trains with upright poles that split into three bars at the middle so that three times the people can hold on to it at once.. without having to grip the icky warm part where your fellow commuter has held before.

  • accozzaglia

    So do some STM Métro cars in Montréal. It doesn’t really “increase” capacity of places to hold onto something. What it has in triple-poles it lacks in spring-mounted hand-holds.

  • accozzaglia

    The triple-bars in the STM do block some flow of people. It’s kind of annoying.

  • http://undefined Stefano

    love the new trains, but why use the same crappy red fabric for the seats? within 2 weeks they will be worn out and blackened.