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TTC Ponders Revolutionary Redesign of Subway Cars in 2008

TTC Commissioners heard proposals this past Wednesday about purchasing radically different subway vehicles for its next generation of cars. The Star has more details here.

The TTC is considering purchasing up to 270 new cars, to replace the older models of subway cars as they reach the end of their lives, and to expand the fleet if the York University extension comes to pass. The T-1s were state of the art vehicles, but they shared the same basic configuration as the various vehicles bought by the TTC since the early 1960s. The new vehicles will address Commissioners’ concerns about crowding, and the expanding waistline of average passengers.

Howard Moscoe wants seats to be wider, and early proposals call for bench (side-facing) seating to be used, leaving more room for standees and increasing the capacity of each car. More radically, the TTC is considering dropping its usual married-pair trainset configuration with a 3-car or 6-car configuration, cutting down on the number of cabs required per train. Furthermore, it is possible that these cars could be joined together with an articulated connection, allowing passengers to travel between the cars, allowing the crowds to spread out to underused parts of the train. The configuration may also be cheaper to build and operate than classic vehicles, since fewer mechanical and electrical components are required. The disadvantage, of course, is that when something does go wrong, half or the whole train is disabled, instead of just a third of it.

Railfans on the Transit Toronto mailing list are excited about the proposed changes, but caution that bench seating is unpopular. Side-facing seats were initially proposed for the T1 vehicles, but were dropped in favour of the current configuration when many passengers expressed a preference for facing forward.

No manufacturer has been chosen to produce this new generation of subway cars. Bombardier is likely in the mix, but the TTC is not ready to limit its options.

Spacing Magazine has run this photograph of a current subway model showing what the new cars might look like. The last time the TTC offered a significant variety within its subway fleet was in 1990 when the Gloucesters last took passengers.


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