August 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm
The Bells and Whistles of Toronto’s New Streetcar
At the Hillcrest rail yard, the TTC showed off some of its hotly anticipated new vehicle's modern features.
328454 Two single-ride vending machines, which accept cash and tokens, appear on each streetcar. "Starting in November," Ross says, "these vehicles will have Presto card readers." streetcar2 http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar2-100x100.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar2.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar2.jpg 1200 800  http://torontoist.com/2014/08/the-bells-and-whistles-of-torontos-new-streetcar/slide/streetcar2-2/ streetcar2-2
328455 Riders can insert a ticket into this machine—of which there are two on each streetcar—whereupon it will be stamped for use as proof of payment. streetcar3 http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar3-100x100.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar3.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar3.jpg 426 640  http://torontoist.com/2014/08/the-bells-and-whistles-of-torontos-new-streetcar/slide/streetcar3-2/ streetcar3-2
328456 The vending machine stub can be used both as proof of payment and as a transfer.<br />
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328457 Instead of mirrors, the new streetcar features side-view cameras; using a monitor in the cabin, the operator sees what the camera sees.<br />
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328458 "I can actually have, at one time, 10 screens to look at for different reasons," Jordan says, noting that everything is recorded. Here is one of those screens.<br />
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328459 Another screen in the operator's cabin, this one showing a feed from the door monitor cameras outside the vehicle.<br />
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328460 Knobs and switches!<br />
streetcar8 http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar8-100x100.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar8.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar8.jpg 1200 800  http://torontoist.com/2014/08/the-bells-and-whistles-of-torontos-new-streetcar/slide/streetcar8/ streetcar8
328461 streetcar9 http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar9-100x100.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar9.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar9.jpg 1200 800  http://torontoist.com/2014/08/the-bells-and-whistles-of-torontos-new-streetcar/slide/streetcar9/ streetcar9
328462 During off-peak hours, cyclists will be able to strap their bikes in for the ride.<br />
streetcar10 http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar10-100x100.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar10.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar10.jpg 1200 800  http://torontoist.com/2014/08/the-bells-and-whistles-of-torontos-new-streetcar/slide/streetcar10/ streetcar10
328463 There are CCTV cameras throughout the new streetcar that feed monitors in the operator's cabin. "Normally they won't be up when you're driving," says Jordan, "but when the alarms go off they become active."<br />
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328464 Passengers using a mobility device can press this button on the streetcar door, alerting the operator that the accessibility ramp is needed.<br />
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328465 The accessibility ramp can deploy in two stages—the first to reach a traffic island, the second (shown here) to reach the street.<br />
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328466 The new streetcar collects current using a modern pantograph, which, unlike the current fleet's trolley poles, cannot become disconnected from the overhead wire.<br />
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328467 "Some people are for 'em, some people are against 'em," said TTC engineer Greg Ernst of the streetcars' face-to-face seating arrangement, which is necessitated by the vehicle's low-floor design.<br />
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328468 The blue priority seats are for people with disabilities, the elderly, and expectant mothers. This feature already appears on some TTC vehicles, and is expected to appear on all TTC vehicles within two years.<br />
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328469 streetcar17 http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar17-100x100.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar17.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar17.jpg 1200 800  http://torontoist.com/2014/08/the-bells-and-whistles-of-torontos-new-streetcar/slide/streetcar17/ streetcar17
328453 Photo by Graeme Bayliss. streetcar1 http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar1-100x100.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar1.jpg http://torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/streetcar1.jpg 1200 800  http://torontoist.com/2014/08/the-bells-and-whistles-of-torontos-new-streetcar/slide/streetcar1/ streetcar1
Photo by Graeme Bayliss.
It’s just three more sleeps until Toronto’s new streetcars roll out on the 510 Spadina line, and during a media event today, the TTC showed off some of the vehicle’s modern features at the Hillcrest rail yard on Bathurst Street.
The new ride is packed with technological bells and whistles that set it apart from the ancient and obsolete streetcars most Torontonians are familiar with, and its basic physical specifications are vastly different, too—it can carry twice as many passengers as the TTC’s standard streetcar, and, at 30.2 metres, is longer even than the articulated Queen Street model.
There’s been no shortage of hype about the new vehicles among transit nerds and regular commuters alike. And operators are gearing up, too: “They’re excited,” says Lionel Jordan, rail transportation instructor at the TTC. “But maybe a little bit nervous.” Driving the new streetcars is significantly different from driving the old ones, after all (for starters, the new vehicles are operated by hand, rather than by foot pedals; there are no side mirrors but instead side-view cameras that feed a monitor in the operator’s cabin).
TTC director of communications Brad Ross emphasized the safety and accessibility aspects of the new vehicle, as well as the new payment system passengers will have to learn—all of which were demonstrated by employees on hand. Find more information about these and other new features in the gallery.
Photos by Graeme Bayliss/Torontoist