How does riding the bendy portion of one of the TTC’s new articulated buses feel? Stand in the middle of the rotating section and you’ll notice little difference from elsewhere in the vehicle. Move closer to the edges and the experience resembles a slow-but-smooth merry-go-round.
One tip: if you’re tall, stand elsewhere in the bus unless you like ducking your head. The ceiling in the joint area is a little lower than normal.
Media and TTC officials experienced the new articulated buses during a test run between the TTC’s Hillcrest complex and Bathurst Station this morning. The feel of the ride was a little different than what passengers are accustomed to. For one thing, the predominantly grey interior makes the inside of the bus seem a little brighter than normal. Footrests improve the comfort level on raised seats. We suspect the plentiful aisle space will allow the vehicles to fit far more than the official peak capacity of 77 passengers (48 sitting, 29 standing). We also noticed many video cameras lining the roof.
When the articulated buses start rolling officially, the routes they serve will see less-frequent service to offset the increased rider capacity in each vehicle. When asked about this, TTC CEO Andy Byford pointed out the positives. He claimed that the extra set of exit doors will shorten stop times by speeding up passenger unloading, and that the higher capacity will provide passengers with better odds of getting on a vehicle. How this will play out in reality, with rush-hour passengers who could care less about the cost efficiencies that come with fewer drivers and vehicles, remains to be seen. Byford also indicated that, unlike the new streetcars, the first new buses won’t be equipped with Presto technology.
Also on hand was Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who marvelled at the gizmos drivers require to operate the vehicle. He praised TTC drivers for being “technically competent and socially alert.”
The vehicle used in today’s run is the first of 153 new Nova “Artic” buses that will go into service between December 2013 and January 2015, marking a return after a decade’s absence—though the articulated buses the TTC was using a decade ago were made by a different manufacturer. The buses will be a Christmas present for riders along the 7 Bathurst route, while long-suffering passengers of the 29 Dufferin bus may see the January arrival of the Artics as a New Year’s gift. Other routes slated to see the new buses before the end of 2014 are 6 Bay, 36 Finch West, 53 Steeles Express, 63 Ossington, and 85 Sheppard East. As for other routes, the buses will only be used where the demand exists and where garages can service the longer vehicles.