2011 Hero: New Subway Trains
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2011 Hero: New Subway Trains

Nominated for: being the silver lining in our often grey commutes.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains—the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past twelve months. From December 12–23, the candidates for Mightiest and Meanest—and new this year, a reader’s write-in option! From December 26–29 you’ll be able to vote for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year, and we’ll reveal the results December 30.

The months—nay, years—of anticipation were almost unbearable, but with a sleek body like that snaking from side to side, you never forget your first ride. Compared to the ones that came before, there’s no contest. God, the new subway trains are sexy.

They first entered service on the Yonge-University-Spadina line back in July, and the excitement was palpable whenever one of the new trains unexpectedly entered a station. Conversations ended abruptly while everyone paused to admire the shiny exterior. Passengers imagined themselves walking (or skipping?) from one end to the other of the long, uninterrupted train. Gleeful smiles (smiles!) were exchanged between fellow passengers. Even now, there’s a certain buzz whenever commuters catch a glimpse of this still-rare beast.

Are there even people who don’t think the new TTC Rockets are the cat’s pajamas? Because despite the never-ending debates over customer service issues and potential fare increases, these new trains are a clear, 450-foot sign that the TTC has one good thing going for it this year. The new layout allows 8–10 per cent more passengers to fit on each train; the electronic subway maps blink at every stop, letting you know which one is next and when you’ve reached an interchange station; and for the hearing impaired, LED screens alert you about the stops too, while indicating which side the doors will open on.

That last feature may seem like a minor one, but those few extra seconds to get to the right set of doors could make the difference between exiting quickly and gracefully and pushing past a throng of passengers in a panic. And so, in addition to the wider doorways on the trains, we appreciate the subtle features that will make a difference on our daily commute.

New subway trains, we know it’s not your fault that some people still hog seats with their bags, listen to obnoxiously loud music, or are generally in a grumpy mood. You’re still holding up your end of the bargain to make us proud of this aspect of our public transit, and we are head over heels for you.