Toronto’s new streetcar: sleeker, lower, longer

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By Allison Hanes, National Post

Toronto’s next generation of streetcars will be sleeker, lower, longer and bigger.

At 28.2 metres, the new Bombardier cars will be longer than the iconic red rockets on the roads now, which stretch to a maximum of 22 metres.

MORE: Bombardier gets nod for new streetcars

Each will have five sections and four doors to speed loading time, with a wide second door to accommodate wheelchairs or strollers.

They can hold up to two wheelchairs and two bikes, while also doubling capacity to 260 passengers.

There will be 62 seats, up from 61 – some of them 1.5 times wider – more generous aisles, more elbow room and air-conditioning.

They will be 100% low floor and accessible. They could start appearing on Toronto streets in 2012.
“I can’t but say this is going to change the face of public transit in the city of Toronto and I am absolutely delighted by it,” said

Councillor Joe Mihevc (St. Paul’s), vice-chair of the TTC.

The 204 replacement streetcars being purchased under yesterday’s announcement will have doors on one side and travel in a single direction, but when Toronto purchases up to 400 off-the-shelf models to run on Toronto’s eight new Transit City light-rail lines they will have doors on two sides and be double-ended so they can travel in two directions.

Gary Webster, chief general manager of the TTC, said there are still details to be worked out, like how passengers will pay. The design has no door by the driver, so some sort of proof-of-payment system will have to be instituted.

The current generation of 248 streetcars first rolled onto streets in 1978, and are nearing the end of their lifespan. Bombardier’s Flexity Outlook will become the fourth generation vehicle in a city that prides itself on holding on to streetcars when most other cities trashed theirs.

Bombardier’s initial proposal was disqualified last summer over a risk of derailment on Toronto’s tight turns, but the TTC’s superintendent of light rail engineering said he is confident the latest design will work.

Stephen Lam said the major change in this version is length – 28.2 metres versus 30 metres, which altered the placement of the truck centres. The front-end was also reduced by 1.28 metres, he said, as well as the overhang, which minimized the lateral bearing force when turning.

“It is quite a change,” Mr. Lam said.

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