I, as many Torontonians, commute to the downtown Toronto area using the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). Living north of the city my public transit commute consists of using the 510 Spadina streetcar line almost on a daily basis to travel to work, so, when I heard the TTC was introducing a new and improved streetcar on that line, I was pretty excited.
If you are not aware of this fun
fact observation, the TTC has a great way of teasing their fellow commuters. It always starts out with the photos. In this case, photos distributed of the new sleek TTC streetcars showed-off different parts of the machine including both the inside and out. Next, they introduced the streetcars physically on the 510 track…but only for testing. That meant day in and day out Toronto commuters would watch the new, sleek, empty streetcars ride up and down for what felt like months. Finally after much anticipation, the streetcars were open to the public on the Spadina line and I couldn’t wait to ride the rocket for myself.
The day after Labour Day and after waiting for four (older) streetcars to go by, I was able to jump on a new and improved rocket. (Note: I should have waited until after rush hour – I was physically too close for comfort among strangers).
The features included for the new streetcar:
- It has the same door chimes at each door, as they do in the subways trains, to let passengers know the doors are closing. No more struggling to push the door or having to “stand on step” to open, it does it automatically after you’ve rung the bell.
- There are also POP (proof-of-purchase) boxes at the two back doors so you don’t only have to go through the front. After putting money in, the POP box gives you a transfer.
- They are also adding a POP box at each streetcar stop as another option
I spoke to a couple of commuters to get their perspective on the new rocket.
Biftu Saleh, a young, vibrant, U of T nursing student who has used the 510 streetcar for most of her university life, said “I was very excited for the new TTC streetcars because of the new features. Once I got on, it looked very new, modern and very quiet. It’s longer, which is nice, because that means it can carry more passengers in the busy streets of Toronto. There are more doors to enter, air-conditioning and overall smoother ride. What I didn’t like was how narrow the aisles were, it makes it difficult to navigate, plus, it’s weird that some of the seats face each other. But I guess it gives people the opportunity to speak to a stranger”
Another commuter named Christine Martin, who travels from Scarborough to downtown Toronto via the TTC to work, had this to say “I was interested to see the new look and how it would best serve the TTC. The new streetcar is more modern looking, both inside and out. It has an improved feel. It’s brighter, cleaner, and longer and has easy access with more entrances and exits. However, I find that it sometimes runs slower and the position of seats and standing area are a little squished together”
In my humble opinion, I must agree with the women in their description.
- Pros: Modern, brighter, better access (which means less crowding when entering and exiting), longer (more passengers)
- Cons: Narrow aisles and seat positioning.
Overall, I give the new streetcar an 8/10. I believe it’s a great quality improvement to the busy downtown city. If you’re ever in Toronto, make sure you take ride of on the new rocket and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of them throughout the city.
About Author: Elle McLaren is a mature university student living in Toronto, Canada.