Subway Car Seating: Readers Comment

I’ve been busy with the Grand Plan for a while, but now it’s time to dig through the backlog of reader comments on various subjects.  Here is some feedback on subway car seating. 

Maggie writes:

I find sitting sideways to the direction of travel sets off immediate back pain for me.

For serious but not visually apparent medical problems, i cannot keep my balance to stand; my only hope not to fall on over or on top of sitters is to totally wrap my arms and legs around a central pole, so i need those.

The seating provision for the impaired is ignored, so that does not help.

A cane often gets me a seat before I fall over, but there are other complications with a cane which I prefer to avoid.

I know my needs are individual, but for me lateral seating and central poles are a necessity.

This is an intriguing combination showing both a problem with bench (sideways) seating, and the need for vertical handholds.  One point I hadn’t mentioned in earlier posts is that once someone manages to sit down, they need to be able to stand up again and often use the stanchions to assist.  In the TTC’s design, once you’re down, you had better be able to stand up on your own power, or sit right beside a doorway where there’s a pole to grab on to.

Suzan writes:

Well, it would be difficult to address all your points which are mostly valid. I just wanted to mention a couple of things.

When I moved back to Toronto in 2002, after a 3-year hiatus in NYC I did notice that the city in general and the TTC more specifically had become *FILTHY*. Now this is in direct comparison with Manhattan and the MTA/PATH trains, which considering the size of their city & transit system and the sheer population (around 10 million daily residents + non-resident commuting workers) and number of riders, is really not very flattering to the TTC.

At the time, the free Metro & 24 hr papers had not yet been introduced in NYC so it would be hard to compare in that regard, but really, instead of blaming the TTC, shouldn’t Metro have some responsibility for cleanup and shouldn’t citizens & transit users clean up after themselves the way they used to do years ago?

What’s happened to this city?  It used to be clean, and now it’s a pigsty.  That’s a reflection on the population and their values, not on the TTC’s inability to keep up with the trash.

Second, I’d like to comment on the seating issue.  Fabric seats get *dirty*.  And not only dirty, but crusty and disgusting and ripped up and cut up, requiring re-upholstering and cleaning and disinfecting.  Once again, I will compare with both MTA & PATH to say that there is really nothing so terrible about hard plastic long benches. They’re easy to clean, they allow for more people to sit, both skinny & obese, without getting elbowed in the ribs every 5 seconds, and it’s really not that hard to get on or off the train. 

The new trains that were bought by MTA and first used on the east-side 6 train were lovely.  Pale blue benches, overhead electronic signage announcing the next stop by name visually and bright and clean.  Our population is growing.  Not to the tune of 10 million maybe, but having been a rider on those trains, I can say confidently that there’s really nothing all that awful about them. I almost grew to prefer them.

On the subject of garbage on the subway and the free newspapers, there is supposed to be a deal between TTC and the folks who run the newsstands where the TTC gets an extra fee to pay for cleaning up the papers.  Obviously either the fee is nowhere near enough, or it’s paying for something totally unrelated. 

The fabric seats on the TTC are designed not to get dirty, and in fact I don’t remember ever seeing one.  In the event of a food spill, they are very easy to clean off, and in a pinch it’s very simple to swap out a seat and replace it with a spare.

As for varying widths of people, one thing to watch out for is any “sculpturing” of the seats because this defines where people would sit to be comfortable (you don’t want to straddle two spaces with a seat rib in your back).  The TTC proposal is not a straight bench, but a gentle arc.  From designs I’ve seen so far, it’s unclear whether the seats are molded into explicit spaces for each rider.

Palmerston writes:

Any info on keeping the railfan windows?

With the full width cabs, you won’t be able to sit right at the front of the train, and the back wall of the cab is supposed to be full of electronics, hence no window from the passenger compartment into the cab except through the doorway where the operator may well pull down the blind.

Gord from TEA writes:

Perhaps Toronto should require that all GM and Ford products have perimeter seating and no padding. The number of documented car bombs greatly exceeds the number of documented transit bombs, and far more cars than subways catch fire.

If not, we should remember that while preventing bombings and fires is important, transit and cars are competing transportation modes, and that putting rules in place for only one competitor will advantage the other.

I have a simpler solution:  let’s just get rid of the seats completely and make everyone stand or sit on their backpack.  Hmmm … there’s an idea … everyone sitting … we could fit in two layers of passengers like bunk beds or bi-level cars.  Mind your head, it’s a low doorway!