TTC Cattle Cars: Why Do TTC Engineers Love Bench Seating?

The TTC has done quite a job of massaging press coverage for its planned order of new subway cars.  The new cars will run as unified trains with the ability to walk through the entire train as one continuous unit.  This is expected to add about eight percent to train capacity.

You can look at two posts on this scheme here: transit.toronto

These cars also feature bench seating (no transverse seats) and TTC is pulling out all the stops to force this design down our throats.  They tried once before with the original design for the T-1 cars.  The absence of transverse seats is very annoying to anyone who has back problems or is otherwise unstable unless actually supported by a seat back.  Bench seats don’t do this.

For the truly laughable attempts around this, some of us remember those seats angled at 45 degrees that were an initial failed attempt on the CLRVs.  Designers seem to forget that seats that look nice in a mockup have real people sitting in them with real feet out in the aisles.

The new cars also feature a row of stanchions down the middle for all those standees.  I understand that ACAT (Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit) is not pleased with this design, and I hope that they rally their troops to oppose it. Meanwhile, I have heard a number of TTC whoppers that set new standards for outrageous self-justification, including:

  • “The new seating makes it easier to clean the cars.”   Hmmm … I thought that we had already managed to do this with the absence of equipment cabinets under the seats on the T-1’s.  With all of the extra time, maybe they will actually clean the cars more than every two or three days, and I won’t be able to catch up on old newspapers on the subway.
  • “Transverse seats are easier to hide bombs under.”  Maybe we should ban backpacks.  This will also have the beneficial effect of improving vehicle capacity.
  • “If there is a collision, someone in a transverse seat will be thrown forward and injured while those in bench seats will merely squish softly into their fellow riders.”  We won’t ask what happens to all of the standees, and assume that accidents will be arranged to occur at 2:00 am.  The accident at Russell Hill should not have happened.  It was the fault of budget cutbacks, management indifference, shoddy maintenance, poor signal design and poor training.  The riders who were killed were located at the front of the train which collapsed when it ran into the train ahead.  The full-width cabs on the new cars will take care of that, to the degree that they can crumple in a collision.

We don’t plan a seating design based on events that should not occur, or will occur with vanishingly small probability.  We should not have to endure 30 years of uncomfortable, cattle-car riding conditions just because someone at the TTC has his heart set on a simpler seating design.

TTC staff will be making a presentation about these cars on Tuesday evening at the Rocket Riders meeting at Metro Hall, Room 313 at 6:30 pm.






One thought on “TTC Cattle Cars: Why Do TTC Engineers Love Bench Seating?

  1. The side seating concept is an excellent way to make transit both unattractive and unglorified.

    This is the very opposite of what the objectives of transit should be.


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