Subway riders got their first look at the new trains that will start running under the city’s congested streets within the next few weeks.
The new cars don’t go faster and the TTC’s not promising a substantially quieter ride. Instead, the design changes focus on increasing accessibility, passenger capacity and safety including an anti-microbial coating on the subway handles and enhanced security features like cameras and a two-way intercom.
The Bombardier-built cars, dubbed the Red Rocket, will only run from Downsview to Union Station until the new switch system is finished on the Yonge-University-Spadina line in 2015.
The new computerized switch signal system will have trains running 90 seconds apart. Right now, trains can only run a minimum of two to three minutes apart.
Currently, there are no plans to roll out the new fleet on the Bloor-Danforth line due to the projected cost.
Transit activist Steve Munro says that the new cars won’t solve all of the TTC’s subway problems.
He points out that the TTC is not expanding their fleet as it is only replacing the older T1 trains and that a lot of work needs to be done to modernize the existing tracks.
He also worries about the impact of what he sees as Mayor Rob Ford’s conflicting priorities between saving city money and building subways.
“That’s a big problem,” he said. “There’s a conflict here and I don’t know how he’ll resolve it.”
Some features of the new fleet
The TTC’s new Red Rocket subway cars offer a number of improvements for riders, allowing for their transit experience to be safer and more comfortable, according to TTC spokesperson Brad Ross.
• New cars can carry 10 percent more passengers thanks to the open gangway system, which allows passengers to walk the length of the train without obstruction.
• Gone are the stanchions in the middle of the train, replaced by v-handles, coated in an antimicrobial coating to help stave off the spread of germs.
• Doors are now wider and people can now stand comfortably on either side without blocking passenger traffic.
• Trains are now equipped with video and LED screens that announce stops for the hearing or visually impaired. There’s even a funky new light-up TTC map.
• New rubber guide strips help the visually impaired navigate the length of the train and also point out the route to the doors.
• Every car is equipped with four security cameras and a new intercom system that lets the train conductor speak with passengers who activate the public address strip. In an emergency, conductors can now adequately assess risk, meaning fewer trains will go out of service.
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