TTC Cattle Cars: An Update

Tonight I went to a presentation by TTC staff about the new subway car design.  I am pleased to report that the original scheme discussed here with all perimeter seating was given roughly equal billing with a version much like the current subway cars where some of the seats are at right-angles to the walls.

The rationale for the perimeter seating goes like this:  in our post 9/11 world, the new standards call for there to be no space under seats where someone could hide a package.  This is easier to do with transverse seats than with perimeter seating.  This is supposed to be an FRA (US Federal Railroad Administration) standard, and I plan to check out the details.

A very simple question:  Are commuter railroads, Amtrak, the bus and airline industries going to eliminate all transverse seating?  There is more going on here than just an FRA standard.

Meanwhile, there was actually talk that the seats in the new cars will be all metallic (no padding at all) to reduce the fire load of seats.  We are getting to the point where the most combustible thing on the trains will be the passengers. 

Somebody seems to be forgetting that transit is supposed to be attracting people out of their nice comfy automobiles.

There are many excellent features in the proposed new cars, but TTC staff insist on defending some oddities of the design with arguments that just make them look dumb and undermine their credibility where it really matters. 

For example, there will be no “railfan window” at the end of the train allowing you to peer out at the tunnel and track, and the operator’s cab will go right across the end of the car.  There are two really simple, good, technical reasons for this:

  • they need the space in the rear cab wall for various electrical equipment, and
  • the entire cab is “crumple space” in case of a collision.

However, the TTC’s reason (really!!) is that the absence of a window will protect the travelling public from the trauma of seeing suicides jump in front of the train.  We won’t ask about the operators themselves or the customers waiting on the platform.  We’re worried about the six year old kiddie out for a ride with his dad who watches horrified as someone leaps under the train.  You didn’t know that being a railfan was bad for your mental health, did you?

Come on guys.  Just tell us about the equipment cabinets and the crumple zone and we’ll all shut up and let you build your subway car.

(I swear that I am not making this up.  There are times that the TTC’s explanation for some things is too bizarre even when you’re in the room listening.)