The New Red Rocket
Unlike New York and London that have woven intricate subway systems through the heart of their cities, Toronto's transit system is still relatively young and has a lot of growing to do. Having a strong and speedy transit system is an important part of creating a better Toronto, which is less reliant on the car and more focused around public transportation.
Currently, more than 200 of our subways are over 30 years old: tattered, worn and in need of replacing. But with the extension of the Yonge-Spadina line to Vaughan and the introduction of the city's new Red Rocket, at a cost of a $499-million, the TTC is taking great strides in providing public transit to an average of 1.5 million daily commuters.
As a part of Dalton McGuinty's proposed MoveOntario2020 plan, 39 new subway trains are quickly taking shape at Bombardier's assembly plant in Thunder Bay.
Featured at this year's CNE, the metallic beasts have a sleek and modern exterior with new and subtle features that riders can look forward to in late-2009, exclusively on the Yonge-University Line.
The interior design borrows from Hong Kong's subway system. The subway cars are connected together by an open corridor which allows commuters to walk freely from one end of the train to the other. This addition makes traveling between cars safer because it means that passengers don't have to exit the train.
Splashed with New York ingenuity, the new trains have active route maps which are conveniently equipped with LEDs that tell you the present location of the train and the direction it's traveling. (Until now, finding out what station was next always felt like a game of Clue, as drivers would announce the next station through a static-laden speaker system. Surprisingly, they have now included extremely-helpful electronic displays similar to those seen on TTC streetcars in addition to arrows identifying which pair of doors will open.)
On each subway car, blue flashing lights on the exterior of the train point out the twelve designated wheelchair accessible areas in each subway car. These seats fold up, providing room for baby strollers, bulky bicycles and large luggage. However, my only problem with the new trains is that they kept the rock-hard seats and the distressed red fabric - all too familiar and not at all comfortable.
Lastly, there is an emphasis on safety with four closed circuit cameras, six intercoms per car, and evacuation ramps at both ends of the train. Other interesting features are the new red anti-microbial covers, on handrails, that claim to provide better sanitation.
The new subway makes me feel supercalifragilistic. But do you believe that the TTC is taking steps in the right direction? Is the new Red Rocket well thought out and is it going to make a significant improvements?