First ride on a new streetcar

Nuit Blanche: Riding the new looooong cars on Spadina.


I was disappointed. From the outside, the streetcars look sleek but there’s less space inside than I expected. Aisles between seats are narrow. There were 16 seats in the segment we were in and half of those were a step up from the floor, sitting atop a box to accommodate the wheels. The design feels clumsy.

In these step-up seats, you sit facing fellow riders. There will be knee rubbing for riders my height and taller.

I can only think that the design is all about reducing the number of drivers, not improving rider experience. Because a single driver can haul more passengers, the 30 metre-long cars will arrive at stops less frequently.

The older articulated, two section cars have 61 seats and a crush-load (TTC terminology) capacity of 205. The new, 5 section cars have only 9 more seats, but the crush-load capacity goes up to 251 … more standing, less sitting.

Riders lost the comfort of padded seats around 1980, with the arrival of the models now being phased out. The new cars have hard seats.

If driving becomes automated, which seems very likely before these new streetcars wear out, we may see shorter cars, for service during off peak hours. An almost empty 30 metre long train at midnight seems wasteful. Smaller cars could be more frequent if they didn’t require an expensive driver. Security? Cameras, probably.

At night, the interior of the new streetcar is so brightly lit, it is difficult to see outside. The windows are big, so from outside in the dark, riders are lit up as if on stage. Why?

On the upside, newly laid tracks are very smooth and even the older streetcars run very nicely on them.