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Spotted: The TTC’s New Streetcar Takes its Maiden Voyage

Last night, the first of Toronto's new streetcars rode the rails for the first time.


SPOTTED BY: Brad Ross, the TTC’s executive director of corporate communications

WHERE: Bathurst Street

WHEN: Thursday, March 14, around 4:30 a.m.

WHAT: The TTC has been in the process of rolling out its next-generation streetcars for what seems like forever. First we saw the renderings, then we toured an elaborate mockup, then we checked out the first fully functional test vehicle. Last night, that test vehicle was out on Toronto streets for the first time. According to Brad Ross, who took these photos, the run was just a short test drive from the TTC’s Hillcrest Yard, near Bathurst Street and Davenport Road, down to Bathurst Station. The purpose of the test, Ross tells us, was to gauge the streetcar’s basic abilities: traction, braking, turning, propulsion, and clearance under the railway bridge at Dupont Street. The new streetcars aren’t expected to go into service until early 2014.

Spotted features interesting things our readers discover in their journeys across Toronto. If you spot something interesting, send a photo and pertinent details to


  • Steve Rock

    TRON trolley
    i’ve never been so excited to ride the rocket

  • Eric S. Smith

    …the run was just a short test drive…”

    They just couldn’t bear to wait any longer, I think. And who can blame them? It looks pretty cool.

  • blearghhh

    Holy crap that thing is huge. It’s going to be interesting when they go in to service.

    • Walter Lis

      They’re about the same length as two MU (multi-unit) PCC streetcar trains that ran on the Bloor and later Queen routes. As well as almost the same length as the Peter Witt streetcar and trailer trains that ran on the Yonge and other routes. The difference being that only one operator would be needed for the new streetcars.

      • blearghhh

        Really? Interesting, I guess they just look way bigger. They should be better around curves though, since they’re more articulated for the length. The current ones kind of require all of both lanes to get around the corner.

    • Sam

      as a transit rider I’m super excited that I won’t have to wait for several streetcars to get home, as an occaisonal city driver I’m freaking out about how long these things are!! I second that its going to be interesting when they’re in service…

      • curgoth

        The new ones are going to run less often, so as a transit rider you’re not better off with the newer, bigger ones, unfortunately.

        • HA


          They have higher capacity and less stops.

          • Testu

            These are streetcars, not LRTs. They have exactly the same number of stops as before (except possibly Sunday only stops). And while they are higher capacity they will also be running on an increased headway. So if you miss your streetcar, it’ll be more like ten or twelve minutes to the next one instead of six.

          • Walter Lis

            They are in the process of removed stops. They removed the Fern Avenue southbound on Roncesvalles Avenue. There are doing so with others over time.

          • Testu

            I see what you mean, although those stops are being removed long before these vehicles come into service it seems they are being removed to better accommodate the larger vehicles.

          • Mike Anderson

            …but you’ll be able to fit on that next streetcar, rather than watching 3-4 go buy before just barrrrrrrely squeezing onto the fifth.

          • Testu

            You’ll be able to stand on that next streetcar, that you’ve been waiting 12-15 minutes for. Because there’s minimal seating given the size of these things.

            The new design is great, but I’d still prefer to have more frequent service. Especially since the routes don’t connect in any meaningful way. It’s ridiculous that my travel time can vary as much as 45 minutes simply because I needed to transfer between three different routes.

          • Still_Waters3

            You are exaggerating. I have not heard anywhere that TTC is planning on cutting the service in half. Most of the reason for the bigger cars is to increase overall capacity to accommodate ridership growth that they can’t carry now because they haven’t got any extra streetcars. They may change a headway from 4 minutes to 6 minutes, or from 3 minutes to 4 minutes, but they are not removing half of the vehicles.

          • Testu

            I am not exaggerating. I already have to wait 10 minutes+ for east and westbound streetcars on King St. near Dufferin, mid day during the week.

            Are you suggesting that by increasing the headway and reducing the number of vehicles they are going to reduce that wait? Keep in mind, this is mid-day there are no traffic issues causing bunching here.

          • Still_Waters3

            Just because it’s midday doesn’t mean the traffic isn’t a problem. In fact, due to the on-street parking allowed during the day, bunching may even be worse. The TTC’s latest Service Summary, available on their website, shows midday service is scheduled on King every 3 minutes 45 seconds with 29 CLRV’s. Dropping 6 vehicles would take that headway to approx. 4.5 minutes. With service already scheduled better than every 4 minutes, adding more vehicles in a mixed traffic environment isn’t going to reduce your 10 minute gap, it’s more likely to just make the bunches of streetcars longer. Slightly fewer vehicles at a still-frequent headway may actually make it easier to manage and more reliable, but that will depend on the TTC upping it’s game as far as route management goes.

          • Testu

            Route management is exactly the issue. The vehicles leave Dundas West station and the Roncesvalles yard in bunches. The only separation that occurs on-route is due to vehicles getting stuck at street lights. This is why there is a 10+ minute wait less than 3km from where the vehicles begin the route on a “3:45″ headway.

            An increased headway with these new vehicles isn’t going to stop the operators from leaving when they feel like it. At least with more vehicles in service there are slightly better odds of one being nearby at any given time.

      • blearghhh

        My thoughts exactly. You just expressed it better.

    • Dinah Might

      At full speed, it can only be stopped by the Hulk punching it in the nose.

  • zak2010

    TTC operators are going to have to adjust their driving styles – way too often streetcar operators enter an intersection when the light is on the brink of red and end up blocking the intersection. With these beheamoths they could shut down traffic in the core for days.

    • Marc

      “With these beheamoths they could shut down traffic in the core for days.”

      Hyperbole much?

      • zak2010

        Last week, Broadview Ave. south at Dundas. Streetcar #1 enters intersection to go north on Broadview from Dundas as HIS light has turned red. Loses connection, blocks intersection and operator has to get out and re-hook to power. No traffic gets through intersection during that light cycle. Next cycle, streetcar #2 enters intersection, late on amber, looses connection and AGAIN blocks the intersection with no traffic able to get through. Operator has to re-hook to power. This is not an un-common experience in Toronto.

        If TTC operators continue to push the traffic signals they’re going to seriously add to the gridlock in the city rather than help reduce it. These new streetcars are a lot longer. A serious change in operator style will be required.

        • OgtheDim

          Pentagram’s in theory shouldn’t lose power, i would think.

          That, and its only15 feet longer then the double cars we have currently.

        • the 505

          there’s something wrong at broadview/dundas. it seems like 30% of the time the streetcar loses the connection. i’ve repeatedly had drivers who took that turn in the slowest, more tentative fashion in hopes of keeping the connection. i can practically hear them cringing their way through it.

    • Grant Heaslip

      That doesn’t happen anywhere near as often as you’re implying, and it’s not a problem unique to streetcars. I see cars making this mistake at downtown intersections all the time, and I could count the number of times I remember streetcars getting caught in intersections for non-electrical reasons on one hand.

      Of course, the root cause isn’t bad drivers, it’s overloaded roads. In the case of streetcars losing connection, the problem is our outdated fleet.

      • zak2010

        If the new streetcars are 30% longer and the operators continue driving in the same manner… do the math. It will take longer to clear an intersection, therefore more slowdowns.

        Intersections that I travel frequently as a driver, TTC rider and biker – Broadview & Dundas, Broadview & Queen, 504, 505, etc. Anywhere where there is a turn on a line is subject to this problem – car, truck, streetcar – they all do it. My point, which people seem to be missing, is that the TTC operators, in this case, are pushing the lights and with longer vehicles, if driving attitudes don’t change, the problem is going to get worse.

        • Marc

          First off, these cars are going on ROWs first. They’ll be on dedicated lanes with dedicated turn signals and won’t take much longer to turn that current ROWs. Second, these cars will run less frequently and will be less bunched together. This reduces the amount of short turns that will happen and there will be fewer cars turning.

          Instead of being snarky and telling people to “do the math”, perhaps you should reflect on your maths instead.

          • zak2010

            Wow. Imagine if I had been trying to be snarky.

            The math is pretty simple. A longer streetcar will take more time to pass a fixed point in space. Like an intersection. Eventually these new, longer, vehicles will be on non-ROW routes. If a driver pushes through an amber or red light it will take longer for them to clear the intersection than any of the currently used vehicles. The speed at which they travel is unlikely to increase. So the intersection will be blocked for more time.

            That math seems pretty simple to me. If you were offended – your issue. That may have been snarky. Apparently I’m oblivious to it.

            BTW, I am looking forward to riding on them. The point of my original posting was that the drivers shouldn’t be pushing through amber and red lights.

            End of discussion.

          • dsmithhfx

            “Imagine if I had been trying to be snarky.”

            Oh my, I can’t.

  • HotDang

    That there is a quality item.

  • Mark Jull

    These are lovely trains and I’m very happy to see transit improvements, but I’m a bit skeptical about these. I worry that only one will fit in a station at a time (like Spadina and Bathurst stations) and the threat of less frequent service. It seems people think bigger (like the trains) or faster (subways over LRT) is the solution, when it’s not. The majority of people’s transit time is waiting for a vehicle.

  • Paul Lloyd Johnson

    “I like this ship! It’s exciting!” – Montgomery Scott. I feel it works here :D

  • Bob

    Reminds me of the trams in Europe.

    • OgtheDim

      That’s cause Bombardier builds those too.

  • Ovich

    Those facing seats are going to be a disaster! Trust me! Get ready to sit all
    over ppl’s dirty shoe filth, because you just know no one has any etiquette and
    will throw their feet up on the opposite seat, any chance they get!

    • ticky13

      This is also why I never got why TTC insists on putting that shitty red fabric on every bus/subway/streetcar seat. It just absorbs any liquid/food/shit that touches it. There is nothing wrong with sitting on plastic.

  • jshaw3

    Why do they look so vintage? They look straight out of the 60′s!