Toronto unveils new streetcars: panoramic views, four-door boarding

Toronto's new transit solution: an extra-long, wheelchair-accessible streetcar with panoramic views and queue-crushing interior space.

This week, the Toronto Transit Commission unveiled its first new streetcar in 25 years.

At 30 meters (98 ft.) long, the new model is twice the length of the current version and has panoramic windows, air conditioning and four-door boarding. It can fit 251 straphangers standing and seated -- 48 more than the articulated light rail vehicles (ALRVs) currently in use. (The new seating plan accommodates two bikes or two wheelchairs, but the face-to-face layout may be a somewhat divisive choice.)

The hope is that the bigger vehicle will better navigate the city's streets, curves and hills (it has four flexible articulations) and shrink the lines of people waiting to board, too. They are also reportedly more quiet than the previous model.

The TTC put in a $1.2 billion order for 204 new vehicles, which are manufactured by Canada's own Bombardier. (It's the Flexity Outlook model.) Three test cars will be piloted before the fleet debuts in 2014.

Interestingly, the initiative lacks support of mayor Rob Ford, but that disconnect seems to have more to do with how the streetcars have been funded than the mode of transportation itself. Toronto has also been exploring a provincial electronic fare system called Presto, but it has yet to be fully implemented in the city for similar reasons.

Whatever the challenges, it's good to see Canada's largest city exploring new ways to relieve downtown congestion.

TTC unveils Toronto’s new streetcars [Toronto Star]

Photo: Bombardier's Flexity Freedom tram, which is similar to the Outlook model that will be used in Toronto. (Bombardier)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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