Toronto unveils the next generation of Red Rockets.

Artist's rendering showing one of Toronto's proposed new streetcars on Queen Street. Image via TTC's "Toronto Meet Your New Ride" website; click to visit. This and other renderings used by permission of TTC, with thanks to Brad Ross, director of corporate communications.

This is kind of a big deal.

The Toronto Transit Commission on Friday unveiled renderings of the city’s new 204-car fleet of Bombardier FLEXITY low-floor streetcars, set to enter service in 2013. Those interested in the new cars will find plenty of reading material on a new TTC website, “Toronto Meet Your New Ride.”

Better yet, TTC will offer the public the opportunity to experience the new cars in person — well, sort of. A mock-up of the front half of one of the 30.20-metre-long vehicles will be on display next weekend at the commission’s Hillcrest facility, 1138 Bathurst St.

These cars will be the first truly new streetcar design to hit Toronto’s streets since the Canadian Light Rail Vehicles arrived more than 30 years ago. They also will be the culmination of a process which started in 2007, when more than 10,000 people participated in a TTC consultation program to tell the commission what they would like to see in a new streetcar. Formal design work commenced in 2009, followed by more public consultation beginning in May 2010.

“Some advice was loud and clear: more seats and accessibility were at the top of the priority list,” the website says. As well:

You told us:  “Our streetcars are a moving landmark. The world knows Toronto for its streetcars and it is time we get some that are not only cutting edge, but one that looks the part and gives a good first impression.”  We heard.

Interestingly, the renderings show the new, five-section cars equipped with traditional trolley poles (in addition to pantographs, presumably for “legacy” streetcar lines and new LRT routes, respectively) and a 21st century version of Toronto’s traditional front-end advance lights, or “bull’s eyes.” One bit of historic equipment that seems sure to fall by the wayside, however, are the conventional roller destination signs, still used on the current generation of TTC streetcars.

Vital stats for the new vehicles are, per TTC:

  • Seating — 70
  • Standing — 62 average, 181 maximum
  • Length — 30.20 metres
  • Width — 2.54 metres
  • Height — 3.84 metres
  • Weight — 48,200 kg
  • Max. service speed — 70 km/h (“However, the vehicle must be operated within the posted speed limits of Toronto’s roads,” the website notes.)

CLRV or streetcar? I captured this image of TTC car 4160 laying over at Gunn's Loop in the early morning hours of March 19, 2000. Solid as tanks, these cars will be missed.

TTC says the new vehicles will be phased in starting in early 2013, ultimately replacing the entire existing fleet of existing streetcars, though “TTC may elect to retain a small number of the current streetcars for heritage or special charter purposes.”

I just hope TTC aren’t truly serious about trying to get riders to stop using the term “streetcar,” seemingly so dedicated to branding the new cars light rail vehicles: “a modern technical term for what we’ve typically called a streetcar.”

Indeed? It’s worth noting that the formal names of Toronto’s current generation of streetcars are Canadian Light Rail Vehicle and Articulated light Rail Vehicle, or CLRV and ALRV, respectively — and the people of Toronto have nevertheless been calling them streetcars for more than a quarter-century.

Whatever you want to call it, the mock-up of Toronto’s new ride can be seen from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 12 to 15 at Hillcrest.

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2 Responses to Toronto unveils the next generation of Red Rockets.

  1. Christine H. says:

    Those are beautiful! As for the terminology, why call anything a light rail vehicle when streetcar says it all.

  2. Lucy says:

    I guess how people call them is absolutely secondary. What is important is that it will be more efficient for travelers than previous streetcars. Of course, the fact that is looks more attractive is just another plus.

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