TTC Unveils New Streetcar Design and Mockup (Update 2)

Updated November 10 at 4:45 pm: Photos of the mockup have been added to this article.

This shows the mockup (actually three sections of the five-section vehicle) including street level (front door) and island level (at the second door with a ramp deployed) comparisons for boarding heights.

For more photos, scroll down to the bottom of the article.

See also coverage on the Torontoist, Urban Toronto and blogto websites.

Updated November 9 at 5:20 pm:  In response to questions that have come up in this thread and previous articles about the new cars, I have added information at the end regarding the issues of weight-per-axle and the Toronto requirement that the cars negotiate single-point track switches.

The TTC will display a mockup of the new streetcar fleet for public viewing.

TTC Hillcrest Yard
November 12 to 15, 2011
10:00 am to 7:00 pm

Additional information about this event and the new cars is on the TTC’s LRV Page.

39 years ago, the TTC decided to retain its streetcar system, and this will be the second generation of new streetcars.  Toronto joins the rest of the world with a modern car based on designs used in other major cities.

They’ve been a long time coming, and design changes have added almost a year to the process that TTC and LRT advocates expected when the order with Bombardier was approved.  When I have details of the delivery schedule, I will update this post.

For additional hi-res views of the new cars, visit the “Meet Your New Ride” page.  Something that’s immediately obvious is a family resemblance to the interior of the new Toronto Rocket subway cars.

Two observations about the TTC’s website:

  • Comments about the improvement of capacity on routes and the approach to scheduling service are now out of sync with statements in the TTC’s budget papers.  Originally, the TTC was committed to improving capacity on streetcar routes and keeping wait times reasonably short.  Today, this position is no longer as definite because running service above a full standard load is transit gravy.
  • The new cars will operate, according to the TTC, on new routes for the eastern waterfront.  Considering the foot-dragging on this project, the cost escalation and the low priority given to waterfront transit generally, it’s hard to say whether these routes will ever actually be built.

Updates regarding technical issues with the cars follow the break below.

I exchanged emails with the TTC’s Stephen Lam, Chief Engineer, Rail Vehicle Engineering on some the technical subjects readers have raised about the new cars.  The sections below are based on his responses.

Comparing weight-per-axle of LVLRVs with other cars

Yes, the weight-per-axle is greater on the new cars than those we now operate.  The new cars, like the ALRVs, have three two-axle trucks, but these carry longer, heavier cars.

The axle load is higher on the new low floor cars than that on the ALRV because it is a longer car with higher capacity, air-conditioned, more auxiliary equipment, with structure and metal still built for 30-year life, but on the same number of axles. The axle loads on the CLRV and ALRV are almost identical because the ALRV is approximately 1.5 times longer than the CLRV, with 1.5 times more axles to carry the additional 50% weight.

What really matters, however, is the “unsprung load”, the portion of the total load that is not supported through some form of resilient suspension.

Vibration that could cause track and equipment degradation, however, is more caused by the mass below the suspension system – in other words, the weight on the wheel-axle set, or what is known as “unsprung” mass.

The new low floor vehicle still employs three layers of suspension – super-resilient wheels with soft rubber blocks between the wheel tyre and the axle; a rubber primary suspension system; and a coil spring secondary suspension system that supports the carbody.

More importantly, the “un-sprung” mass on wheel axle set of the new vehicle is lower than that on the current fleet of vehicles by approximately 10%.

Vibration and noise

Vibration problems with the roadbed arise from a number of sources, and this was described in detail in a research paper prepared in response to early problems with the CLRV fleet.  The original “Bochum” wheels on those cars have a rubber layer to damp vibrations, but it is a completely different configuration from what existed on the PCC fleet and a similar arrangement with the super-resilient “SAB” wheels now used.

On the Bochum wheel, the axle hub is separated from the steel tire (the ring of metal that actually runs on the track) by a rubber ring.  This ring is placed in compression by the force of the wheel on the track, and so the wheel is stiff in that direction.  This aids in transmission of vibration to the trackbed.  The concrete slab acted as a resonator.

When these wheels were introduced, Toronto was building non-resilient track with rails laid directly in concrete.  By contrast, older tracks sat in asphalt or paving setts and the roadway would not vibrate.

The SAB (and PCC) wheels also have rubber between the hub and the tire, but in a vertical sandwich.  On the PCC wheel, it is a single piece of rubber on each side while on the SAB wheel there are 16 separate “hockey pucks” (8 on each side of a wheel) providing a similar, but greater effect than the PCC design.

This puts the rubber in shear vertically, the direction the wheel bears on the track.  It also changes the vibrating frequency to one that is high enough that solid pavement cannot resonate.  Moreover, for many years the TTC has been building track that is mechanically isolated from the slab with a rubber sleeve so that any vibration from the wheels is damped out.

The new LFLRVs have skirts that cover much of the truck and block the transmission of noise from the wheels into the air.

Single-point switches

Unlike the switches found on many LRT systems, the TTC’s streetcar network is built in the North American standard layout using single-point switches.  This means that there is a movable blade only on the “inside” rail of a curve.  By contrast, railways and the subway use double-point switches where both rails have a movable blade.

A single-point switch is cheaper to build and maintain, especially for street trackage, because there is no need to link the two blades so that they move as one unit.  That’s why it was so common on streetcar systems.  When a streetcar enters a switch that is in the curved or “open” position, the wheel on the inside of the curve (the right side of the car on a right turn) is pulled into the turn, and through the axle this directs the wheel on the outside into the correct track.

When the CLRVs operated with Bochum wheels, this arrangement caused derailments because the Bochum wheel, with its rubber ring, is not stiff horizontally.  Rather than turning into a curve, the wheel would deform.  Because the inner wheel was not pulling its mate on the other side of the car into the curve, the outer wheel would follow the straight track.

The SAB wheel is stiff horizontally and this pushes the inner wheel into the curve as desired with a corresponding move in the outer wheel.

One concern the TTC had with low floor car designs that used split axles (a separate half-axle for the wheel on each side of the car) is that there was no mechanism to transfer the force between inner and outer wheels at switches.

Truck design also affects how well a car will follow track on a curve, but that is independent of the type of switch used.  The specification for the new cars improves on the CLRV truck in this regard.

Stephen Lam provided a set of illustrations of the design illustrating some of the points discussed here.  Page 2 shows the design used for the Bochum wheel (left) and for the super-resilient wheel.  Pages 3 and 4 show details of the suspension system.  Page 5 shows the full truck (bogie) and skirting.

Photos of the Mockup added November 10, 2011:

This shows the second doorway of the car (also the second section) looking from the rear.  The accessibility ramp is deployed at the high platform level.  During the media briefing, we did not see it extended to its full length for pavement level access, but I was told that it is roughly three times longer for that type of situation.

The brick pattern in the window is a reflection from a nearby building.  It is not part of the colour scheme.

This is the rear half of the second door panel showing the pushbuttons for opening the door (red) and requesting ramp deployment (blue).  All doors on these cars are passenger activated.

This is a view toward the same set of doors from inside of the car.  Note that the door panels are not all of the way open because they were set up manually for the tour.

Also visible here is a sample of the extra wide seat.

This is the view directly across the car from the second door.  There are five flip-up seats in an area that can otherwise be used for wheelchairs and scooters.  The lighter patches on the floor mark where spots for these devices and there are stop request buttons on the wall beside each of them.

The red box showing partly in frame (see enlarged version) on the left side is a placeholder for the ticket/Presto machine.

Looking out through the front door which is single width.  TTC Chair Karen Stintz is in the background.

The main part of the operator’s cab.  The video display in the middle will contain images from the cameras at each of the four door locations.

The left side of the operator’s cab showing the control handle for the car.

A poster explaining how fare collection will work.  Both a generic ticket vending machine and Presto are shown.

The text in the poster says that the new scheme requires a system-wide conversion to time based transfers.  This appears to set the stage for new transfer rules on the TTC.

A poster comparing vehicle capacity.  The values shown are Service Planning averages, not the crush capacity of the vehicles.  Also, the size of the new fleet is still shown as 204 despite budget moves to reduce or defer part of the order.

This map shows the deployment plan for streetcars on each route, and it is much different from the scheme laid out in last year’s budget papers.  Bathurst, Harbourfront and Spadina are first up in 2014 with Queen following in 2015.  This will allow the ALRVs to be retired in roughly 2016.

126 thoughts on “TTC Unveils New Streetcar Design and Mockup (Update 2)

  1. Steve: There really needs to be a strong signal along the length of the car so that both passengers and motorists see the same indication that says “pedestrians have right of way now”.

    I disagree. That serves no useful purpose in my opinion. It sounds like trying to use technology to govern behaviour, and that rarely works.

    It’s extremely common practice, and I speak as someone who regularly engages in this very practice along with his fellow riders, for passengers to walk into the street before the streetcar has come to a complete stop. The doors are only enabled after the streetcar has stopped, and the warning lights activated only when doors are enabled.

    The lights’ primary function is to warn car drivers that someone will be getting OFF, someone car drivers CANNOT see until after these passengers emerge from the vehicle, but car drivers CAN see passengers who are getting ON the vehicle before the doors open. So only alighting passengers need the safety provided by warning lights alerting car drivers.

    Boarding passengers will most often not wait until the lights are on before approaching the vehicle, as they are accustomed to having the right of way for boarding already today. While cars can see boarding passengers, boarding passengers can see cars, too. So boarding is inherently safe enough without warning lights, and wouldn’t benefit boarding passengers since they’d already be in the middle of the right lane by the time the lights went on most of the time anyway.


  2. What happened to the process of giving these cars a name?

    Steve: Everything to do with these cars stopped dead in its tracks when Rob Ford became Mayor. I suspect that recent activity was only possible because the Tories didn’t win the provincial election and Rob’s buddies at Queen’s Park are not in a position to tear the TTC apart for him.


  3. I wrote to TTC months, if not years, ago enquiring on how approaching cars were going to know that the streetcar doors were open, and in particularly how people getting on were going to cross traffic to press the button to open the door (which will be interesting, given how quickly some drivers like to leave the stops … heck, they are going to be challenged even spotting passengers waiting to get on over a 30-metre length – some seem to have a hard enough time spotting the person standing next to the stop now!).

    The Highway traffic act section is 166(1):

    Where a person in charge of a vehicle or on a bicycle or on horseback or leading a horse on a highway overtakes a street car or a car of an electric railway, operated in or near the centre of the roadway, which is stationary for the purpose of taking on or discharging passengers, he or she shall not pass the car or approach nearer than 2 metres measured back from the rear or front entrance or exit, as the case may be, of the car on the side on which passengers are getting on or off until the passengers have got on or got safely to the side of the street …

    There’s nothing in the law about the doors being open or not. The trigger is that the streetcar has stopped. One it’s stopped, and there’s passengers that are going to get on or off, the car (or bike, or horse 🙂 ) can’t pass, or even come within 2 metres of the back door.

    Perhaps the trick will be to mount a machine-gun turret near the back of the new LRV. Based on the comments I’ve heard from riders, I’m sure there will be no shortage of volunteers to staff it! 🙂 Seriously though, I look forward to carrying a nice metal-tipped walking stick …

    In reality, I suspect that passengers will simply have to be a bit more aggressive on entering the road; with those that are uncomfortable with this tending to enter in the front 2 doors. Passengers don’t seem to have any hesitancy flooding on to the road early, if they think the streetcar is so crowded, that they might not all get on!


  4. Steve: There really needs to be a strong signal along the length of the car so that both passengers and motorists see the same indication that says “pedestrians have right of way now”.

    Karl: I disagree. That serves no useful purpose in my opinion. It sounds like trying to use technology to govern behaviour, and that rarely works.

    I think they should be treated and signed exactly the same as school buses: don’t confuse motorist by using other names like street car or light rail vehicle. They all know, or should know, the rules for passing school buses; the same should law and lights apply to street cars, except only for autos going in the same direction where there is no platform.

    Another item I learned at the LFLRV display is the entire under side of the car is stainless steel to avoid rusting. The body is aluminum with some fibreglass parts to reduce mass.

    Steve: Given the length of the car, a motorist might be beside the car at a closed door which could then open. It is important that the display be visible whenever the “open door” function is enabled, not just when the door is open.


  5. Am I the only one who thinks that these new streetcars may be fairly disruptive to the existing norms of downtown traffic circulation (not that this would necessarily be a bad thing)? Given the amount of street parking on many downtown streets, and the relatively short gaps between sections where parking is allowed versus prohibited, it seems like these cars will be next to impossible to pass in many areas. It also seems like they may have trouble getting through intersections in some places — if drivers are continually turning right onto say, Queen at a busy intersection while a streetcar is trying to get through, there may not be enough room for the TTC vehicle to get all the way through the intersection. This is already occasionally a problem but with very large streetcars seems like it will become much more so.

    Second, I feel like these cars will make the closeness of stop spacing in many areas of the streetcar network even more acute. I’m thinking of for example stops at Bond and then Yonge on Queen or Bathurst and then Rogers Rd on St Clair. I know this is a point that is often debated (I.e. How closely spaced should local stops be?) I wonder whether we’ll see any stops eliminated by 2020 …

    Steve: I think you mean Victoria, then Yonge at Queen, and Bathurst/Vaughan in St. Clair. There are a number of closely spaced stops that could be removed in various locations, but the circumstances are different at each one (presence or absence of traffic signal and working transit priority, for example). York and Queen bothways is a good example because the streetcar is almost guaranteed to be delayed by the traffic signal if it has to stop for passengers.

    On the more general issue of transit priority, it’s amusing to think how the pro-car folks would react to the much larger number of buses required on busy streetcar routes and the effect this would have at intersections. They only care about getting the streetcar out of their way without considering the effect of the alternative.


  6. Robert Wightman writes

    “I think they should be treated and signed exactly the same as school buses: don’t confuse motorist by using other names like street car or light rail vehicle. They all know, or should know, the rules for passing school buses; the same should law and lights apply to street cars, except only for autos going in the same direction where there is no platform.”

    Well, plus that cars must stop for school buses in both directions unless there is a median.

    And cars can pass by a streetcar on the left side on one-way streets doors open or not, but again must stop for a school bus with its signals on.

    So, no, the “be a school bus” solution is not practical.


  7. I believe that nfitz’s interpretation of the HTA is not quite right. He stated, “There’s nothing in the law about the doors being open or not. One it’s stopped, and there’s passengers that are going to get on or off, the car can’t pass, or even come within 2 metres of the back door.”

    There are two issues here. First, it is correct that the law does not specifically state anything about doors being open or not, and second, proceeding beyond 2 metres behind the rear door is not in contradiction to the Act. The key words on these from the Act are, “…which is stationary for the purpose of taking on or discharging passengers, he or she shall not pass the car or approach nearer than 2 metres measured back from the rear or front entrance or exit, as the case may be…

    The words “stationary for the purpose of taking on or discharging passengers” is generally interpreted to mean that doors are open. Simply being stopped close to a marked stop is not sufficient. There are many examples of where a TTC vehicle may stop to take on or discharge a passenger away from a marked stop (beyond the Request Stop program), and I have witnessed and experienced situations where a vehicle completed its take on/discharge activities and the operator has closed the doors and rolled a metre or two to the intersection stop line and refused to open the doors for any late-comers. Doors being open have become the defacto definition of “taking on or discharging passengers”.

    The second mis-interpretation of the law deals with where vehicles must come to a stop at. It is not the rear door, but the rear-most door being used to take on or discharge passengers, as defined by the words, “shall not pass the car or approach nearer than 2 metres measured back from the rear or front entrance or exit, as the case may be.” A vehicle stopped behind the rear doors may proceed once those doors have closed and the driver takes reasonable care to see there is no additional passenger about to board or alight. Of course, if the next door ahead of that door remains open, they must stop at least two metres behind that.

    All that said, as I have stated before, I believe we should be looking at changing this part of the Highway Traffic Act to disallow the passing of any streetcar/LRV when it has lights flashing, similar to the law in Victoria, Australia. Of course, the new vehicles should be equipped with such lights.


  8. In response to Robert Wightman’s suggestion that the rules about passing LRVs should be similar to school buses, Steve wrote,

    “Given the length of the car, a motorist might be beside the car at a closed door which could then open. It is important that the display be visible whenever the “open door” function is enabled, not just when the door is open.”

    I should add that the flashing lights on LRVs in Melbourne are activated while the vehicle is coming to a stop, and not once stopped and the doors are open. This provides allowance for vehicles that may be along side of the LRV when the lights come on, while providing ample time for vehicles still behind the rear of the vehicle to come to a stop before doors open.

    I posted an article with a link to a video made by Vic Roads last year. The section on Tram Stops starts at about 1:15 into the video and has an animation regarding the rules. The animation shows the flashing lights operating before the tram reaches a full stop. Near the end of the video, at about 6:05, this can be seen with a real tram approaching a stop.


  9. Judging by the number of drivers who pass school buses when their stop arms are out, better enforcement is needed.

    I was at the mock-up display today and noticed all the cameras on the OUTSIDE of the streetcar. I do know they are for the driver’s benefit, but I would guess they also record. If so, couldn’t the driver “bookmark” an offence committed by a passing driver? The police could then go through the recordings and at the “bookmarks” find the license plates and issue tickets through the mail or make a personal appearance for repeat offenders.


  10. Earlier this year you posted that the plan was to have the mock-up here in January, the two prototypes here now (October/November), the technical verification vehicle next February, and the first production vehicle here December 2012.

    Have you heard what the new schedule is?

    Steve: Prototypes in April maybe, production cars in 2013, route conversions (as per the map) starts in 2014. I think that this has all been on hold waiting for the provincial election.


  11. So, I guess this is going to be the beginning of the end of foot pedal operation of streetcars in Toronto, right?

    Steve: Yup.


  12. As alluded to already, the simplest way to notify motorists that the doors are open or may open is to mimic the alternating red lights of a school bus. This automatically eliminates the excuse of “out-of-towners” not understanding the no-passing rule. The implication would be most instinctively clear, although this should be clarified in the Highway Traffic Act and really should require all vehicles to stop at the rear of the streetcar at all times when the warning is activated. The circuit which unlocks the passenger buttons for the doors would trigger the lights before any doors had to open as would the driver’s controls forcing the doors open. The alternating lights could be mounted in the rear window or could actually just be a circuit that alternates the left and right brake lights similar to what is done in Philadelphia when an LRV applies its brakes. Lights on the door edges could alternately flash top-bottom-top-bottom in sync.

    I don’t think that the “Don’t pass open doors” warning is adequate even if it is illuminated because it provides no warning about any door opening on demand at any time during a stop and nothing about people having to step out in the street to open the doors before the warning light appears. This would be especially concerning at night. Also, while I see the merit of a fold-out stop sign, anything mechanical is a bad idea because it would be more prone to failure or damage from sideswiping vehicles. Just imagine a whole LFLRV having to go out of service simply because the stop sign wasn’t working.

    Thanks specifically for your response about the paint scheme and ends. It is those little details you cited that, without being obvious individually to most people, actually make a big difference together. I’m very thankful to you and the Panel for making the effort to elevate the design as much as could be allowed. As to advertising frames, I don’t see why they would want them now that vinyl wrap is so prevalent. Perhaps they can figure out how to remedy the issue they had with the current fleet where the panel-sized vinyl ads tested were tearing the body paint off the primer when removed.

    Steve: They would paste advertising on the passengers if they could get away with it. Apparently there may be a contractual requirement with their advertising company to provide advertising space on all of their vehicles.


  13. Steve:

    Given the length of the car, a motorist might be beside the car at a closed door which could then open. It is important that the display be visible whenever the “open door” function is enabled, not just when the door is open.

    Like on school buses the operator would be able to activate the lights as the car was approaching the stop. Once the lights start flashing it would be illegal to pass.


  14. Geese, I don’t understand why they don’t just run the streetcars curbside instead of out in the middle. I myself as a passenger feel like it’s rude to be “dumped’ in the middle of the street and dangerous. Also island platforms are awful places to stand.

    Places like Spadina are so wide that dual carriageway for streetcars on one side could have worked. Streetcars on one side and parking and autos on the other. But of course the tracks are cemented in and now we buy super giant streetcars, not better streetcars, just bigger ones to solve our problems.

    Steve: There’s a good reason streetcars are in the middle of the street. For starters, curb running would play havoc with parking, not to mention right turns, and I suspect cyclists might be a tad annoyed too. Also at intersections where streetcars turn, the curve radii would be too tight (they are already tighter than most new LRVs can handle as things stand now). Also, on most streets, the utilities are under the curb lanes for easy access. It’s not just a question of rearranging the tracks even if curves were not a problem.

    We’re not “solving” any problems by buying larger cars, certainly not as this applies to which lane contains the streetcar tracks.

    If we were starting completely from scratch, yes, we could design streets with proper space and traffic flow for pedestrians, cycling, autos and transit. However, the streets are as they are whether we like it or not, and changing the geometry will happen rarely. Roncesvalles had a once-in-a-century chance when the 100-year-old watermain was rebuilt to tear the entire street apart and look at a new design. Even then, the streetcars stayed in the middle both because of curves at Queen and Howard Park (not to mention a transition back to centre running at Dundas), and because the utilities were already mostly under the curb lanes.


  15. I think having flashing lights coming on before a stop would encourage motorists to speed up in hopes of passing before the doors open. This is much like how I see many motorists now using the crossing countdown timers to judge whether they should floor it to clear an impending red light from a much greater distance than they could before the whole flashing hands thing started.

    About the exterior advertising frames, it would be interesting to note if there is actually a requirement in the contract for the TTC to provide card-holding frames. If not then the TTC could simply specify that the small rectangular exterior ads had to be in vinyl format when used on these cars. I have no idea if they prefer the risk of paint stripping off (vinyl) over the risk of corrosion from rivet holes (frames). In recent years I have seen a number of streetcars with the frames removed.

    Steve: Sorry about being unclear. The ad frames I meant were those inside the car which don’t exist (yet) and were deliberately omitted in the original design.


  16. re: the HTA not referring specifically to open doors: Note the reference to horse-drawn vehicles, and also the need to differentiate between a “street car” and a “car of an electric railway.” I wonder if this clause was written so long ago that there were some open-air (i.e., doorless) streetcars still in operation at the time (whether Toronto or other cities like Hamilton)?

    Steve: Don’t forget that there are still horse-drawn vehicles in some parts of Ontario, although rarely in downtown Toronto.


  17. Hey Steve,

    Given the info based on the display boards, do think that FINALLY the TTC will be overhauling its fare system? IE: something like YRT/Viva transit?

    And even tho the TVMs on the new LRVs and stops will accept tokens, is this a precursor to the TTC phasing out tokens completely?

    Steve: At this point, the TTC has only just started to consider what a new fare system would look like, and how a hybrid Presto/TTC system might work.

    Also, it seems that King will have to wait longer than Dundas for the new LRVs… that being said, do you think we’ll see any line sharing?

    Steve: The problems with service scheduling will be considerable. There are already problems when an ALRV route has a CLRV in place of a longer car (this happens a lot on Queen), and I can’t imagine the mess if a CLRV shows up in place of an LFLRV. However, the TTC’s equipment scheduling has managed to screw up things like this for as long as I have watched them. A good example is that there are regularly the oldest, and allegedly least reliable, of our subway cars in service during off peak periods and on weekends. This happened in the transition away from the old “G” trains, and it happens today with the H4s. I fully expect the policy of “push out anything that runs” to continue in the indefinite future.


  18. Ed says:

    November 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    And cars can pass by a streetcar on the left side on one-way streets doors open or not, but again must stop for a school bus with its signals on.

    So, no, the “be a school bus” solution is not practical.

    School buses have lights at the front and the back. The LRVs would only have them on the back and right side, and aside from the 503 how many lines run on a one way street, and it runs what , every 12 minutes? The idea would work with some modifications.


  19. “Note the reference to horse-drawn vehicles, and also the need to differentiate between a “street car” and a “car of an electric railway.” I wonder if this clause was written so long ago that there were some open-air (i.e., doorless) streetcars still in operation at the time (whether Toronto or other cities like Hamilton)?”>

    The streetcar/electric railway reference could refer to either horsecars vs electric streetcars, or streetcars vs interurbans. The last horsecars in Ontario were retired from transit service in 1901 (in Sarnia), and I believe that open streetcars were banned in Ontario after 1915 for safety reasons (The damage done by a Model T t-boning an open streetcar is not pretty)


  20. Visited the display today. Not impressed with what I saw. Narrow aisle especially at the front. Facing seat group should work for families etc. but otherwise not appealing. Distinct lack of sufficient chime buttons and no cords at all to request a stop. Supposed to handle bikes but no sign of where they would go. Hope not inside the car. There is already too many problems with the SUV-sized strollers people insist on pushing on. (There needs to be a serious crackdown on these!) These cars are too long. A step backwards. End result will be further deterioration of service since fewer cars will be assigned. When one goes bad order/short turn/MIA everyone gets dumped onto the next car which may already be full. What we need is MORE service not less. The worst part of all of this is the length of time it is taking to gets cars on the street. Ridiculous!

    Steve: Bikes go in a vestibule similar to what you saw for the scooters, but at the next set of doors (in the part of the car not included in the mockup).

    I strongly suspect much of the recent delay with these cars originates with Mayor Ford trying to wait for a new Tory government at Queen’s Park that would help him cancel the contract and redirect the money to the Sheppard Subway. Now that the election is over, work is suddenly advancing in the new streetcars. I don’t think this is a coincidence.


  21. I will surely miss the real bells on the new streetcars (instead they’ll be using a simulated computerised bell).

    Why did UTDC even bother with Bochum wheels to begin with, if the rubber-in-shear wheels worked perfectly fine before on the PCC’s?

    Steve: Because Bochum wheels were in common use in Europe (on track with very different characteristics from what we have in Toronto), and because the UTDC did not really understand streetcars. The CLRV was a desperate attempt at credibility by a crown agency that was unable to deliver a credible product. They started with the work the TTC and Hawker-Siddeley had done on a new streetcar design, and would up with a tank designed for high speed (110kph) operation that was aptly described as the “Edsel of streetcars”.


  22. How does the TTC intend to issue timed transfers on the subway? It seems that such a system will break down unless transfers are issued solely at the time a fare is paid. If a rider could get a timed transfer from a machine once inside the fare paid zone, you can see that with a bit of effort they would be able to extend any trip indefinitely.

    So will every rider who requires a transfer (anyone intending to connect to a streetcar route, presumably, due to POP) have to pay their fare to the collector? Is that even feasible in terms of passenger volumes? Or is the TTC going to put TVMs in every subway station as well as on the surface? Wouldn’t that present many of the same problems and expenses (e.g., lack of communications infrastructure) as installing Presto in every subway station?

    Steve: This is only part of what the TTC must wrestle with in looking at new fare collection schemes. Yes, the idea of freely issued transfers will become a thing of the past.


  23. I still see the major problem with these cars being reduced service. It is great to say that capacity will increase, but with less streetcars frequency will have to be reduced. I see this as a huge disadvantage which should have been considered when the whole project started.

    Steve: Originally, the TTC claimed that it would maintain service frequency, but this has fallen victim to the current regime’s focus on budget cuts. Advocates for articulated buses should note that a similar fate would befall any line where larger buses were implemented. It’s not just a streetcar-related issue.


  24. Some comments after my visit to the mock-up:

    – The warning light strip on the door edge doesn’t seem very visible and is rather small. Someone noted that it may be obscured from view if a motorist is sitting at the 2-metre setback in the neighbouring lane. The “Do not pass open doors” sign in the rear window is supposed to light up and flash, however there is a manual button for this on the operator’s console. It seems rather dumb that this would have to be manually turned on and off every time especially if the vehicle is still in motion at the time.

    Steve: I agree that the whole mechanism of warning lights for motorists is very badly designed. This was not an aspect of the cars the Design Review Panel had any chance to comment on.

    – I overheard Jeffrey Kay talking about a problem with the ramp access. The external request button for the ramp is in the middle of the door panel. A mobility-impaired customer has to get right up to the button to press it but then has to back away far enough to clear the ramp extending. This safety issue is compounded by the potential need to enter the roadway before the warning lights are activated. Has there been any discussion of how wheelchairs and scooters are supposed to get on and off the curb where there is a traffic lane in between? It would also seem to me that a number of existing island platforms don’t have enough manouvering space for such devices to get on and off the ramp, even when it is minimally extended.

    Steve: The City will be doing curb cuts at transit stops to allow wheeled devices easy access to the pavement. However, the requirement to come right up to the car to push a button in a location where the ramp extension would collide with you is really, really dumb. Another piece of the design the Design Review Panel didn’t get to see in advance.

    – One staff member commented that the white LED strips between the headlights seem to serve no purpose whatsoever. It is unfortunate that they have gone to the effort to insert these and pre-empt our ‘traditional’ centre-headlight. Also missing are the green marker light(s). Why were these specified on the CLRV/ALRV but now absent? The blue markers are not really a substitute because they specifically refer to accessibility. On a related note, once all TTC vehicles are accessible don’t the blue lights become redundant?

    Steve: Those strips seem to be a reaction to the “where’s the headlight” discussion that came up earlier in the design process. There are structural reasons why a headlight assembly cannot be in the middle of the front of the car, and the LEDs seem to be an attempt to get around this with something that requires less space (depth). Other than giving the front of the car a distinctive lighting “look”, I’m not sure what they do. As for the marker lights, they are descendents of the “advance light” that was on PCCs. This morphed to something more akin to a bus or truck marker light for simplicity of manufacture, and following the TTC’s evolving colour code, they’re now blue as you mention. They simply add to the “look” of a car from afar, although just how well this will work depends on the brightness of the lamps and the optics of the lenses.

    – The camera views replacing the driver mirrors are nice because this has eliminated the ‘insect-like’ appearance of many other modern LRVs. This will also mean less time wasted fumbling with mirror adjustments during driver change-offs.

    – The operators’ hand control right away felt wrong to me because I couldn’t move it through its full range without having to slide my arm on the armrest. This will likely lead to very fast destruction of the armrests from the constant friction and may affect the operator’s ability to smoothly control the vehicle. There was a dummy deadman pedal on the floor but I was told this feature will be incorporated into the handle much as in the newer subway trains. The front console buttons seemed to be placed way too far forward and down and spread out to be a comfortable reach. All regularly used features should be at your fingertips, not a reach-and-lean affair.

    Steve: The floor pedal is to adjust the angle of the footrest. It is not a deadman, although everybody thinks it is. I agree that the console is rather spread out and will require a lot of reaching. However, this design was supposed to have been vetted by real operators, and so far I have not heard any grumblings. No doubt real world experience with the prototype will show how well, or not, the arrangement works.

    – Has there been any document put together about how many stops must be modified or have parking spots removed to accommodate the length of these vehicles?

    Steve: The review of the system (which also affects many loops at stations) is in progress.


  25. You mentioned earlier that the TTC doesn’t have a program in place to ensure the best and newest trains/LRVs/buses are on the rails/road. Do you know why that is? I’ve been wondering for months now why, at 7am, there’s a Rocket train stored on the middle track north of the Eglinton station platform, dark and unused, instead of in revenue service. I had some hope that that’s where the TTC keeps its newly arrived trains for testing purposes, but now it now seems likely that they just don’t see fit to have the morning rush fully stocked with Rockets.

    Steve: Things have always been this way. What works goes out into service, old or new. As for a train stashed north of Eglinton, that’s probably one of the gap trains that will be dispatched into service if/when there are problems later in the rush hour.


  26. Kristian says:

    “There was a dummy deadman pedal on the floor but I was told this feature will be incorporated into the handle much as in the newer subway trains. The front console buttons seemed to be placed way too far forward and down and spread out to be a comfortable reach. All regularly used features should be at your fingertips, not a reach-and-lean affair.”

    Are you sure it was a dead man pedal? I played with it and it was not in a convenient spot for either my left or right foot and when I pushed it the entire floor section moved. I could set the floor height using that pedal. This would allow you to change leg room with out needing to raise and lower the chair. The pedal is just awkward for a dead man, since, if I remember correctly, the controller is on the dash, it would be a problem to raise and lower the seat. It would be more logical to build the dead man into the controller handle by either pressure or capacitor sensor.

    Steve: The pedal is to adjust the footrest height. The deadman is a capacitive sensor in the controller handle.


  27. It’s funny because the only reason I said it was a deadman is because one of the staff told me he thought it was. He was the one who did say it would be part of the handle in the production model though. By the way, how does a capacitive sensor provide any physical resistance?

    As a general follow-up comment after everything I’ve observed, I am much more concerned with Bombardier’s willingness to make technical modifications than I am with the TTC’s ability to raise issues. This is supposed to be a vehicle based on a mature, proven design and yet we are finding flaws that should have already been discovered in service in other systems. Are we really so different in Toronto?

    Steve: I don’t know the specifics of the deadman, but a capacitive system could be designed to detect either (a) no hand on the control or (b) no change in the degree of contact for “x” seconds. In the latter case, it could sound an alarm requiring the operator to do something simple that the car could detect. I will find out the details the next time I am talking to someone with the technical background for this.

    As for mature designs, the ramp is a “one of” for Toronto because of our street running which includes stops that do not have islands. Some aspects of the car are unique to Toronto.


  28. With fixed trucks, how will it negotiate Toronto’s 11 metre curves, which I understand was a big issue when the process started? I recall Bombardier initially failed a derailment test. What features of the new design enable it to run tight curves?

    Steve: My understanding is that the trucks have been redesigned and their placement relative to the carbody has changed. The “test” that all vendors failed, not just Bombardier, was in a mathematical model, and this revealed where changes were needed for the tight geometry.


  29. Thanks Steve. It is hard to imagine that this design will not cause great stress on tight curves, even if derailment is avoided. This would result in higher maintenance costs. It will be interesting to see what real-life testing brings!

    Steve: I don’t understand what your concern is. All existing cars have fixed geometry trucks.


  30. I think what he’s getting at is that the trucks have a very limited range of motion that is also tied to the carbody by rubberized springs. This increases the outward forces entering turns because the entire mass of the body section above is forced to swing with it rather than easing into the curve. The springs also cause the body to fight the travel of the truck and can lead to exaggerated lateral sway in the front section.

    The Seimens Combinos I rode in Amsterdam exhibited this problem quite violently compared with the complete lack of the behaviour in their older ‘traditional’ LRVs. This is exactly the concern I already had with our coming design.

    Steve: See my response to the previous comment. I expect to get detailed feedback from the TTC next week.


  31. A lot of these door problems can be solved if all streetcar doors simply open automatically every time it stops (deployed by the operator). There’d be no guessing when passengers will load and unload- so long as doors open, then motorists would know when to yield.

    Too bad for the need to have near-perfect A/C in the vehicle. Does that mean air-conditioned subway cars should keep as many of its doors closed as much as possible outside?

    Steve: Winter would be a greater problem as it would be almost impossible to keep the interior of the cars warm.


  32. “Steve: Winter would be a greater problem as it would be almost impossible to keep the interior of the cars warm.”

    The same can’t be said for subways that have outdoor stations?

    Steve: Most subway stations are not outdoors. Even when they are, they are mostly sheltered to some degree and the doors don’t stay open as long as they would on, say, a streetcar sitting at a red light. Have you ever been on the RT with the snowdrifts inside of the cars? That’s the other extreme.


  33. As for the placement of the ramp deployment button, I suspect that the reason for it being on the door itself, and not on the wall beside the door, is so that the button remains reachable at all times (whenever the doors are open or closed).

    If the button was placed on the wall beside the doors, the doors may block it, although I suppose this can be solved by moving the button further out. But then again, the people who need that button have to start further away from the door itself and that might be an inconvenience.

    Do you know the details of the door cycles? How fast does the ramp deploy? What is the time for doors to open/close/lock, etc.?


  34. I have a question, is this the same vehicle for Transit City?

    Steve: No, the Transit City vehicles are not the same as the cars for the “legacy” streetcar system. Same family, but cousins, not twins.


  35. In a climate like Toronto’s, I do have to question why Transit City proposed using double-point switches, instead of single-point switches. Wouldn’t that inevitably mean more maintenance than single-point switches, since the piece that connects the two points is under the pavement (and can freeze up)?

    The TC cars would have came with axles anyways; the only other modification is to use the SAB wheels, instead of the standard LRT bochum wheels.

    Steve: I wasn’t aware that the TC cars were going to use Bochum wheels.


  36. Woops, that was an assumption I made, that most modern and standard LRV’s (which use double-point switches) also use Bochum wheels, since you said it was common in the 1970’s/1980’s.

    But anyways, I question the choice of double-point switches rather than single-point switches in the TC network, unless Bombardiers standard LRV cannot handle single-points?


  37. Hi Steve. Christmas has come and I assume that a reply from the TTC has perhaps not come yet concerning how a fixed truck LRV (normally suitable only for minimum curve radius above 25 metres) will work on Toronto’s 11 metre curves. I can see Bombardier is putting the trucks as close as possible to the articulations and there are long overhangs at the ends (presumably the clearance will be OK) and perhaps this is how they intend to deal with it. But it defies conventional wisdom and will certainly cause track and tram wear, which is why some of us in Australia and elsewhere are watching the matter with interest.

    As you know, the Skoda-Inekon consortium proposed this solution which does address the small curve radius but TTC apparently would not even talk to them about it, which was rather puzzling. So, any information that comes along (not to mention the prototype testing) will be very interesting.

    Hoping of course that you don’t have the order cancelled by politics, which concerns us as much as it must concern you!

    Steve: I am still awaiting a reply.


  38. From what I read, the service capacities of the streetcars are as follows:

    LFLRV: 132 passengers
    ALRV: 155 passengers (!)
    CLRV: 102 passengers

    (info from and the National Post)

    Imagine how the streetcar haters would react when they find out that the service-capacity of the LFLRV’s is less than the shorter ALRV’s!

    I understand that the LFLRV’s have less floor-space, because of the bogie-machinery around the wheels, but this seems like a huge discrepancy.

    Is this discrepancy because of the changing loading standards that have occurred over the past few decades? Are these in-service numbers therefore comparable with each other?

    Steve: You are quoting two separate sets of numbers. The capacity of a CLRV for service design purposes is 74. The higher figure is a crush load. Similarly, the design capacity of an ALRV is 108, and for the LFLRV will be 132. Quite often, LRT advocates screw themselves up by using the crush capacities in calculations of line capacities (X people per car times Y cars per hour) and even Bombardier is guilty of this.

    It is possible on a short-term basis and under specific conditions (typically mass boarding with prepaid fare collection at one major stop through all doors) to pack a car to crush capacity, but this cannot be sustained in normal service. The moment you need space left over for people to move around with ons/offs at stops along the way, crush capacity is lost. A good comparison familiar to us all is on the subway where under certain circumstances, trains can leave a peak point absolutely packed, but this condition cannot be sustained for an entire hour at the minimum line frequency. One big problem the TTC ignores when talking about very close headways on Yonge is that if they don’t keep dwell times short by having enough free room on trains, they won’t be able to run the frequent service (and high capacity) they claim to be aiming for.

    Any time I have quoted line capacities in calculations, I have used the service planning numbers. These did not change under RGS because there were no spare cars with which to improve service. A side effect of that is that there are were peak period service cuts proposed on the streetcar lines because their loading standard was unchanged. However, the offpeak standard went from a seated load to seated plus 25%. That’s a policy decision independent of the vehicle capacity.

    On the bus system, seated plus 25% may affect service because there is proportionately less standee space in the vehicles, and seated plus 25% is closer to the peak design load. For example, on streetcars, the new CLRV offpeak standard would become 53 (up from 42), compared to the peak standard which remains 74. On the bus fleet, the new offpeak standards lie in a range of 44-48, up from 35-38, out of a new peak capacity of 52-57. While the CLRV offpeak standard is now about 72% of peak, the bus offpeak standard will be about 85%. This will bring offpeak conditions on bus routes much more like peak conditions, and service will run more slowly from loading delays, not to mention the effect of things like strollers, shopping carts and bicycles which tend to be found mainly outside of the peak.


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