The extra length and space for passengers is a double-edged sword. More of us will be able to board any given vehicle (which will be welcome at rush hour), but this will be balanced by longer wait times: larger vehicles means the TTC can run service less frequently and move the same total number of passengers.
That tall seat tilted vertically on the right is known as a “standing seat.” This is for passengers who want to rest against something while riding. Another benefit? Since it’s right in the wheelchair zone, anyone in a wheelchair can use it for support in case the streetcar comes to a sudden halt.
Last week, the TTC gave us our first official look at the new streetcars that will be rolling down city streets starting in 2014. Almost immediately came the questions. How will Presto work, exactly? How will these vehicles interact with cars on the road? And what is up with those seats where people face each other?
We passed along the questions that came up most often to the TTC. The project’s vehicle engineer, Kevin Seto, and TTC spokesperson Brad Ross, have some answers—
David van Geest: I definitely don’t drive downtown, but I can plainly see that it’s hard enough to pass a streetcar as it is. Don’t longer streetcars just exacerbate the problem?
There will be fewer streetcars on the road (204 versus 247 today), and with all-door boarding, less time will be required to service stops, thereby reducing the need to overtake a streetcar. Provided everyone obeys the rules of the road, we believe streetcars and private autos can peacefully co-exist. There will be some adjustment required on everyone’s part, of course, but we, of course, would encourage everyone to leave the car at home and take public transit!
Raven: If the drivers have their own cabs, what happens if a passenger has a question?
There are intercoms for assistance in an emergency, as well as a yellow strip, much like you see on the subway. There is also a “speaking vent” in the cab door if you need to ask the operator a question. For route information, we do encourage people to take advantage of next vehicle arrival information online, the TTC trip planner on our website, by calling 416-393-INFO, or tweeting @TTChelps.
Andrew Traviss: How much space is there between the seats facing each other?
The distance is 600mm. This configuration is [in] place due to the design of a low-floor vehicle. In order to make the cars low-floor (accessible), wheel wells had to be constructed on the cars. To maximize seating, rear- and forward-facing seats were the best solution. While new to Toronto, seating arrangements like this are not uncommon in public transit operations around the world, including GO trains.
Eugene Flaksman: How will open payment be verified?
That’s a level of detail that we’ll be able to better communicate once PRESTO has completed their tests. We will, of course, need to be able to do that – and will.
Joshua Humewood: How will fare payments and transfers work after the new streetcars are rolled out but before rest of system gets Presto?
Transfers from buses or a subway station will be your proof-of-payment, as they are today. Tickets purchased from machines on board the streetcars and at our busier stops on the street will act as your proof-of-payment and transfer to other modes—bus or subway. They will be checked and verified by fare enforcement personnel.
Dylan Smith: Which route(s) will be first to carry passengers on the new vehicles?
That is still to be determined, but it will likely be the 510 Spadina line.
Bryson Gilbert: Will these fancy-shmancy sliding streetcar doors make it harder to tell (as a motorist) whether the doors are open?
The doors have red LED lights and there is an illuminated sign at the back of the streetcar that all flash to indicate the doors are open and that motorists must stop, per the Highway Traffic Act. Like all new technology, there will be education required for motorists and customers alike.