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First of the new fleet of streetcars arrives in Toronto

Posted by Chris Bateman / June 3, 2014

toronto new streetcarThe number of streetcars in Toronto increased by exactly one Saturday afternoon when the TTC took delivery of the first production model in its fleet of new low-floor vehicles. Streetcar 4403, the first of the new high-capacity vehicles that will carry passengers this August on Spadina Ave., was shipped on a flatcar from the Bombardier production facility in Thunder Bay over the weekend.

The 1,300 km journey from assembly line to the Hillcrest maintenance facility took the vehicle, which was hauled by two Canadian Pacific locomotives, through Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, and Parry Sound. In Toronto, the TTC built a special spur track and unloading ramp off the CP main line in order to accept the delivery.

The $1.2 billion fleet of 204 low-floor streetcars will be brought to Toronto in instalments over the next six years. Though the vehicles are more spacious than the current fleet, the overall length is only 7 metres--about 25%--more than a Queen streetcar. Inside there is more seating, more standing room, and (at last) all-door boarding thanks to proof-of-payment vending machines. Presto, when it finally rolls out, will also be available.

The ARLVs--the articulated streetcars that operate primarily on Queen--will be the first to ushered into retirement, meaning that the 501 streetcar will be serviced by the TTC's smaller CLRVs in the near future, most likely in 2015. The last of the current streetcar fleet will be retired in 2020.

While the new Leslie Barns facility on Lake Shore Blvd. is still under construction, the new streetcars will be stored on Roncesvalles. Though the TTC is confident it will have the first vehicle in service by August 31, it remains to be seen just how many will be available on opening day. Spokesman Brad Ross says there will be a mix of old and new streetcars on Spadina until the end of 2014 at the earliest.

The TTC has been conducting an increasing number of street tests and noticeably ramping up its PR campaign in recent weeks. The official Twitter account of the new streetcar gave away spots on a special pre-launch ride in exchange for correct answers to trivia questions over the last two weeks.

Critically, the forays of the test vehicle, which will eventually be returned and converted for public use, helped identify at least one fault.

Engineers found that the retractable access ramps that fold out below each of the doors didn't work quite as expected. Streetcar stops with concrete islands on Spadina, St. Clair, Bathurst, Queen, and College had to be made a precise uniform height so that the ramp, which is capable of meeting a raised platform or the street, was able to accurately deploy.

"There's a new generation [of ramp] that won't be on the first set of production vehicles but will be on subsequent generations, and then those first few production cars we receive with the older ramp will be switched out," says Ross. "It has been a challenge."

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: TTC



Danno / June 3, 2014 at 02:49 pm
I'm having a hard time getting excited about these things, which will arrive less often and therefore be just as full as the old ones, only you'll wait longer. Bonus; people will put their feet up on the opposite-facing seats, rendering them filthy in no time.
Shabongo / June 3, 2014 at 03:09 pm
With this "Proof of payment" vending machine idea... does that mean we can no longer board for free at the back? How is that going to work? Will back door entry still rely on the honour system?
Lofto replying to a comment from John Labatt / June 3, 2014 at 03:16 pm
great idea!
Vinnie replying to a comment from Shabongo / June 3, 2014 at 03:29 pm
doesn't back door entry *always* rely on the honour system? I mean when it comes to buttsecks. The receiver needs to know you will be careful back there.
Greg Hannah / June 3, 2014 at 04:17 pm
Tapping a Presto card or MetroPass will open the rear doors for boarding at all stops. I think I read inserting a token into a provided slot would work too, but I could be wrong. Cash or transfer, board at the front door.
bob loblaw / June 3, 2014 at 04:23 pm
Streetcars must be the worst possible option. Snarl traffic and are so slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
willeh replying to a comment from Greg Hannah / June 3, 2014 at 04:30 pm
Genuinely curious, what is to stop fare jumpers from following right behind a paying customer with this systemÉ
jeffy replying to a comment from bob loblaw / June 3, 2014 at 04:32 pm
Just wondering what makes one person in a car more entitled to the road than 100 plus people on one streetcar.
Dan replying to a comment from jeffy / June 3, 2014 at 04:46 pm
Here's a quick mental debate to have with yourself:

Streetcars vs. Buses

Or should I say:

Streetcas vs. Buses + Dedicated bike lanes from space gained from streetcar lanes.

Count me in as a streetcar hater, although as far as they go, these are nice ones.
pink in toronto / June 3, 2014 at 04:50 pm
I assumed the all door boarding would mean that there are machines to drop tokens in the other doors and a transfer or POP slip is provided, so that they can begin doing control. If an officer walks on board, you should have a transfer, POP slip or metropass. This is why the TTC system never made sense to me, a transfer or POP should be mandatory so they can do controls. The fact that someone can wander the system with no proof that they paid anything is not a sign of a good system.
McRib replying to a comment from Danno / June 3, 2014 at 04:59 pm
that's the spirit!
jeffy replying to a comment from Dan / June 3, 2014 at 05:00 pm
You're living in your own little dream world where we didn't just spend hundreds of millions on new streetcars, and buses on most of these routes are even an option given the cost. We have to make the current system of streetcars work better for everyone, but especially transit riders, they come first in big cities, not single driver SUV junkies. No use complaining about them and having your lame "mental debates", streetcars are here to stay.
McRib replying to a comment from Dan / June 3, 2014 at 05:00 pm
yes because if the streetcars were yanked out, they'd put bike lanes in their place.

have you ever been to Toronto? Thats not how things work here.

W. K. Lis / June 3, 2014 at 05:22 pm
The CNE siding will be used by displaced CLRVs, until the Leslie carbarn is ready.
Jeff / June 3, 2014 at 05:31 pm
What does this mean?

"Critically, the forays of the test vehicle, which will eventually be returned and converted for public use, helped identify at least one fault."

What do you mean returned? Like, sent back to Bombardier who will then convert them into normal street cars?
BettieLuv replying to a comment from jeffy / June 3, 2014 at 06:12 pm
Right, but what about lightly loaded streetcars. Aren't they roadhogs?
BettieLuv replying to a comment from jeffy / June 3, 2014 at 06:16 pm
The amount that they pay to own, maintain, park and run their car perhaps?
tommy / June 3, 2014 at 06:33 pm
To answer the payment questions: the entire streetcar fleet will eventually be POP, and the TTC will be hiring more fare inspectors to check that you've paid. There is no more farebox or interaction with the driver in the new streetcars (the driver is doored off from the riders).

Anyone can board using any door - they all open when the streetcar stops. The Presto tap readers are inside the streetcar, on both sides of every door. At doors 2 and 3 there will be a self-serve fare machine that you can use to drop a token or pay cash to obtain a proof-of-purchase transfer. Metropass users just have to hold on to their card - no swiping needed.

At busy stops, there will be fare machines on the street so you can pay before boarding, otherwise you'll need to line up at the fare machine, depending on how many people need to pay. The hope is that most people will get Presto cards.
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from tommy / June 3, 2014 at 06:40 pm
Actually, there are buttons on the inside and outside on the doors that the passengers have to press to activate the opening of the streetcar doors. Like an elevator. Don't press them, they don't open. Unless the operator sees you via the cameras, and then the operator opens the door for you.
stopitman replying to a comment from Dan / June 3, 2014 at 06:43 pm
Buses replacing streetcars = more buses (probably close to double) + more drivers (i.e. salaries).

So instead of a streetcar every 4 minutes on Queen St in rush hour, you have a bus every 2 or 3 minutes. Furthermore, capacity on the streetcars can handle much greater increases in ridership than buses ever could - the past shows us that we can ramp up streetcar service to provide. For comparison, the Queen car on the opening of the Yonge line in 1954 had service intervals of 1.5 minutes from Neville to the Humber Loop, nowadays the combined Queen service between those two loops is every 4.5-5 minutes.

The poor streetcar service is a result of the TTC's poor decisions, lack of money (due to the TTC, Toronto councillors, Toronto citizens, and the province), and the incredibly inefficient use of city roads by automobile drivers.
jeffy replying to a comment from BettieLuv / June 3, 2014 at 07:19 pm
So your logic is, if I own, maintain and park a car, I have the right to be on the roads more so than people who pay taxes in order to maintain and build the roads. Get real. This is a very American mentality you have. The roads are for everyone, regardless of wealth. Moving the most people possible in the quickest way is the top priority. Cars do not accomplish this, in fact they hinder it. Cars get in the way of streetcars, not vise versa. I drive a vehicle, and I understand this. I do not ride transit everyday, and I understand the more people that ride streetcars and the more desirable they are to ride, the more space that frees up for me. I don't feel entitled to it, like yourself. I am happy to share the road. Even if there are only 10 people on the streetcar that is 10 less cars.
Alex replying to a comment from BettieLuv / June 3, 2014 at 09:32 pm
Your ability to spend money on a thing does not entitle you to own the roads.
Alex R (Toronto) / June 3, 2014 at 09:35 pm
The ARLVs--the articulated streetcars that operate primarily on Queen--will be the first to ushered into retirement, meaning that the 501 streetcar will be serviced by the TTC's smaller CLRVs in the near future, most likely in 2015. The last of the current streetcar fleet will be retired in 2020.

Hopefully, the TTC should keep the ALRV, the current articulated streetcars in service until the new longer low-floor articulated streetcars enter service on Queen street.
LW / June 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm
Wait ... Low-floor vehicles? What happens when it snows? Won't that just clog up the bottom?
Aaron / June 3, 2014 at 10:33 pm
@LW - Shhh. TTC doesn't know about snow yet. Best to stay away from the doors when it plows through a water puddle.
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from LW / June 3, 2014 at 10:42 pm
Guess it does not snow in Northern Europe where they have already the low-floor trams, streetcars, and light rail vehicles.
KLLA / June 3, 2014 at 11:24 pm
More and more cities are going back to trams or 'light rail'. So much more energy efficient than subways or buses. The fare situation may end up being a headache but I hope only a temporary one.
Bob replying to a comment from LW / June 4, 2014 at 03:00 am
Snow? They did run the new streetcar through snowstorms.

Also, the ALRVs are harder to maintain than CLRVs. So they want to scrap those first. If the delivery schedule goes well, all the ALRVs would be gone by late 2015. They want to get rid of them before the 2015 winter for sure. If these new streetcars rolled out earlier, they would of scrapped all the ALRVs this year.
kn / June 4, 2014 at 09:52 am
I love the look of these streetcars and I'm sure they are perfect for Spadina and St Clair but I am baffled as to why the city & the TTC haven't quite grasped the inefficiencies of running these on Streets with parking and no right of way. They block all of the cars, who then cut off cyclists trying desperately to get around the slow streetcar. Then they wait at left turning cars. If there is an accident they are waiting. They should plan to replace most of downtown street parking with underground or stacked lots.

Sorry but why didn't we build a subway or along that corridor west of the Roger's centre over to Liberty village??? Maybe it's because Adam Vaughan thought streetcars are the solution to everything? What a clown.
tommy replying to a comment from kn / June 4, 2014 at 10:35 am
So you haven't lived in Toronto for very long, have you? The streetcars and riders who use them came first. It was only post-WWII that cars started showing up, clogging streets with left turns and on-street parking. It's not as easy as you think to reconfigure an entire city's transit system around cars (and a bad idea at that). Spadina and St Clair have room for right-of-ways because they have extra street width.

As for this corridor you speak of - it's been a rail yard for over 100 years. Not much room for a subway. I'm not sure you appreciate how long it takes to plan and build a subway, so this is hardly Vaughan's fault. It took over 30 years to get the subway up to York, jeez.
Confused Tax Payer / June 4, 2014 at 12:43 pm
Why don't they just drive the street car on the rails rather than putting it on another train? Double train = double TAXES. It's theft! I am very angry about all this waste.
tommy replying to a comment from Confused Tax Payer / June 4, 2014 at 01:29 pm

2 seconds of Googling. My god.
Shannon replying to a comment from Confused Tax Payer / June 4, 2014 at 03:48 pm
Streetcars are electric. Rail is not. They came all the way from Thunder Bay!
Shannon replying to a comment from Alex R (Toronto) / June 4, 2014 at 03:52 pm
They won't. The ALRV's will be replaced with more of the CLRV's instead. The ALRV's are expensive to repair. They don't make parts for them anymore. The CLRV's are more reliable and built better. They are also easier to fix. They will use them on Queen before we get to travel the new ones. The CLRV's taken off Spadina and Bathurst will be used to increase the number of streetcars on Queen.
kn replying to a comment from tommy / June 4, 2014 at 04:47 pm
Tommy, Really? A lot has happened since streetcars "Ruled Toronto".

I never suggested that our public transit be reconfigured around the car but at the same time, we need to realize streetcars are not a solution to every public transit need. In fact, it's application is quite limited.

Re: that "corridor" to the south of the Rogers centre extending over to Liberty village and beyond. It is a perfect example of our single..simple minded councillors waffling and not providing solutions that will give people driving those nasty cars a reasonable alternative. That corridor was, completely empty for decades. The round house had been abandoned for quite some time and that whole area west of Spadina was a driving range!! West of Bathurst was also empty up to the EX. The first buildings in city place were completed in 2002/2003. Adam Vaughan became councillor for the ward in 2006, well before most of those condos were built. Certainly it's not all on Adam Vaughan's head but the fact is, Adam has always thought that the Spadina streetcar was sufficient to service city place. (He told me so.) Really Adam? Tens of thousands of new residents are going to be serviced by a streetcar? What about beyond ward 20? Liberty village? Palace pier area? Streetcars? This is what I call severe myopia.
Spike replying to a comment from kn / June 5, 2014 at 07:36 am
The only myopia is the myopia coming from YOU about this; please try and read about streetcars, buses, and why many North American cities (including New York) are trying to bring streetcars back (in addition to building light rail.)
Yep / June 5, 2014 at 05:08 pm

Wait until you see one up close. They're beautiful! If you're anything like me, the kid in you can't wait to take a ride on one of these babies. I can see these being a tourist attraction.


A test vehicle is used to indentify functional problems ahead of the roll out of the new fleet.

kn, tommy;

TTC aside, Vaughan is a bit of an idiot.

PEOPLE, traffic is not slow because of the streetcar alone. Many factors cause conjestion. Didn't we just have a conversation about this in the last week?
kn replying to a comment from Spike / June 7, 2014 at 04:34 pm
The myopia comes from people, such as yourself Spike, who think streetcars are the answer to all public transport. It isn't. They are plagued with a whole lot of issues, many of which revolve around having to share it's thoroughfare with everybody and their monkey. They certainly have a place in the main core of the city but servicing areas beyond that, is a stretch.

Spike replying to a comment from pink in toronto / June 9, 2014 at 06:23 pm
A lot of people do this in many countries where there are similar systems, mostly to go for short trips of a few blocks (I've done that myself when riding on Queen Street a few blocks) so I don't think that it'll be a big problem, or should be one.

@kn: 'Sorry but why didn't we build a subway or along that corridor west of the Roger's center over to Liberty village??? Maybe it's because Adam Vaughan thought streetcars are the solution to everything? What a clown.'

Maybe he didn't want any subways because:

1) We're already planning a DRL that you and all of the other subway junkies can ride on; what more do you need or want?

2)Subways might not work on Queen, King, St. Clair or other streets; PLEASE learn about public transit before you open your whiny uninformed pinhole again. Better yet, here are some websites to enlighten you:


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