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TTC set to fix most annoying feature of Rocket trains

Posted by Chris Bateman / July 18, 2014

toronto ttc hand railsThe TTC's Rocket subway trains could get some pricey new ceiling hand rails as part of a series of safety upgrades over the next few years, if a new report is adopted by the TTC board next week.

The areas beneath the heating and air conditioning units, located near the doors of the Rocket trains, do not contain any hand-holds, posing a safety issue during rush hour. One of the new Rocket trains (pictured above) has been fitted with prototype rails and plastic straps to positive customer feedback.

The cars will also be fitted with exterior speakers as a result of feedback from riders with visual disabilities. The devices will make the three-note door chime easier to hear from the platform.

The total cost of the work is estimated be in excess of $15 million, but thanks to a series of credits owed to the TTC by manufacturer Bombardier, the net price has been reduced to $465,000. Before the discounts were applied, the design, engineering, and installation expense of the hand rails alone was $4.3 million. The speakers were marked at $11 million.

"Our engineers review these issues very carefully. Given the number of cars, material and time it will take, I trust the professionals got [the price] right," TTC spokesman Brad Ross said in an email.

The hand rails and speakers are due to be in place on all 70 of the Rocket trains by the end of 2016.

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

Image: twurdemann/blogTO Flickr pool.



wait wait wait. / July 18, 2014 at 11:32 am
According to yesterdays article about the TTC i could have sworn the most annoying feature was...

fat, ethnics with babies in a super sized stroller who eat stinky food while listening to aggressive gangster rape with their back packs on as they stand near the front of the car.
S / July 18, 2014 at 11:40 am
I still don't know how no one thought the the lack of overhead grips on the new trains wouldn't be an issue BEFORE the trains were built...
chris / July 18, 2014 at 11:44 am
Unlike the older cars, the sounding of the chime and the closing of the doors is now unrelated. This was identified as a problem when they first were launched and then quietly forgotten. You never know if you're going to be hit by the door as you scoot inside or if you're going to stand there a for few minutes before they actually close. This is a major pain.
matts / July 18, 2014 at 11:48 am
also when you're really unlucky the door chime goes on multiple times before the door closes for good and for unknown reasons, the announcer volume often fluctuates and gets really damn high... and yes, the fact that there are large swaths of interior with no access to a rail to hold to, is a major design flaw...hopefully fixed soon
Jeff / July 18, 2014 at 11:50 am
No! I hate the prototype. The rails are too low and I've banged my head on them numerous times
lena / July 18, 2014 at 12:20 pm
I thought the most annoying feature of the new subway cars was the inability to avoid leering creeps or crazy threatening types by being in a different car.
Al / July 18, 2014 at 12:32 pm
Sometimes, the doorchime goes off after the doors are already closed and the train has started moving.
i like you replying to a comment from wait wait wait. / July 18, 2014 at 12:34 pm
You managed to almost get every single gripe from yesterday in! Bravo! But you forgot about them clipping their nails!
W. K. Lis / July 18, 2014 at 12:53 pm
The "most annoying feature" of Rocket trains is the lack of a railfan window. We, the public, can't get a clear look out to front or back of the train.
straphanger / July 18, 2014 at 12:56 pm
The door-closing chimes/announcements sound AFTER the doors have closed - absolutely useless and annoying. And do the station announcements have to be so deafeningly loud and repetitive (each station is announced 4 times, once should be enough).
And while we're on the topic of design flaws, those expensive and heavy glass partitions beside the doors should be eliminated. All they do is encourage people to lean against them and block the doorways. So what if people feel a bit "exposed" sitting there without a glass partition, the doorway area should be designed to be obstacle-free.

iSkyscraper replying to a comment from straphanger / July 18, 2014 at 01:10 pm
Designing the interior of a subway car is never easy. You have to do certain things to make things less comfortable to deter people from standing in certain areas and blocking them. More poles are always great, but then people cluster around them and won't move. Glass partitions by the doors are there to prevent purse-snatching but then encourage leaning. You widen the doors to improve flow but once people realize passengers can get by them without moving they just plant themselves there. Disability advocates make you do repetitive announcements, but in the process you annoy everyone else. No one wins.

That said, let them try out these new bars and see if there is any benefit.

And it should be noted that $15M is not chump change, and it's fine to invest in the subway fleet, but the next time Rob Fucking Ford goes off about bathrooms or umbrellas keep in mind how expensive the things that he likes are.
Potrzebie / July 18, 2014 at 01:24 pm
The most annoying feature is the delay in the doors opening once the train stops. When you want off, you want off NOW -- not 3 seconds from now.

stapler / July 18, 2014 at 01:29 pm
You really have to wonder about the due diligence done during the procurement of these trains. All they had to do was stand in a mock up to realize the lack of hand-holds was a serious problem. It's also weird that Bombardier didn't realize this was an issue during design...aren't they supposed to be expert train manufacturers?
4ChanApologist / July 18, 2014 at 01:48 pm
I think I speak for everyone over 6'4" tall when I say "Hooray! Another thing for me to bang my head into on the TTC!"
Jack / July 18, 2014 at 01:50 pm
My 2 pet peeves are 1) the hand rails above the folding seat sections that are about 3 inches from the roof making it almost impossible for anyone under 6 feet to reach them; and 2) the curved bars at the door entrances. While I understand the need to try and move people out of the doorways, that's not going to happen unless you're riding in off-peak hours. Riding in rush hour, the cars are packed. Every available space is being taken, including the doorways. If anyone is leaning up against the glass partitions, only or two people can hang on to those curved poles as the upper portion is obscured by the person leaning on the glass.
unecessary / July 18, 2014 at 02:00 pm
I think, in their proposed locations, the handrails won't be very useful. Even during rush hour, that part of the train (walkway between both doors) rarely has more than two people on both sides (a common gripe from yesterday's article). Both riders can grab onto the existing poles that run from floor to ceiling (ish).

Where lack of overhead holders IS an issue is near the doors. Furthermore, the only time I would find them useful, and see people obviously requiring them, is when the subway is turning (i.e. St. George to Museum).

Don't bother with the current proposition.
Hawker Siddeley / July 18, 2014 at 02:16 pm
The glass partitions were originally designed as draft screens, which is why the older trains had the panel that went down to the floor. It was to keep cold drafts from blowing on the passengers sitting next to the doors. On these trains, like everything else, they screwed it up by not having the partition go to the floor anymore so now in the winter you get cold drafts blowing on your legs.
Hawker Siddeley replying to a comment from stapler / July 18, 2014 at 02:18 pm
Yes, but remember the poster for Lakehead University with the woman who said "I graduated from Lakehead and now I design state of the art subway cars"? The people who designed this stuff have never ridden the subway and threw away everything that was done before because it wasn't designed by them.
Josh / July 18, 2014 at 02:37 pm
The very annoying SQUEAK of the overhead handles....Lube that up!
Bruce Peninsula replying to a comment from unecessary / July 18, 2014 at 02:40 pm
Unnecessary is quite right. The problem is a lack of hand holds between the doors, not where the test "solution" has been installed. A waste of money by the ttc yet again. Wherefrom is the TTC inferring positive feedback?
straphanger / July 18, 2014 at 03:03 pm
If absence of glass partitions beside the doors causes some people to not like sitting at the seat beside the door - GREAT - that would clear up more space at the doorway. But if people had to sit there, they could. Just think about how expensive all those curved-cut, anti-scratch-coated slabs of glass cost. And consider all that extra weight (2 slabs/door x 8 doors/car x 6 cars/train = 96 slabs of useless heavy glass/train) - NYC uses slanted bars which provide some anti-purse snatching protection while still discouraging leaning doorway blockers.
c replying to a comment from 4ChanApologist / July 18, 2014 at 03:19 pm
Agree. The ceiling fan units are already too low to make the ride comfortable. I'm 6'5" and I ride the TTC with the expectation that I'm going to bang my head daily.
t replying to a comment from straphanger / July 18, 2014 at 03:53 pm
this is a really good idea
Gus / July 18, 2014 at 03:56 pm
Okay, this is ridiculous. There are already vertical handrails throughout that are in reach of everyone. Who know who can use handrails on the ceiling? Tall people. You know who can't stand up straight in these trains because of the lower than normal handgrips that are already there? Tall people. I'm about 6' 4 1/2", and to walk through these trains - one of the main virtues that have been trumpeted - I have walk hunched over to avoid cranking my skull on the stupid handgrips. Added to the fact that the legroom in front/rear facing seats is too tight for me also, and the result is that any time I'm riding on Yonge and I see a T-1 train pull in I cheer a little. The bars on the ceilings of the T-1s are a little higher and clear my head just fine. Not to mention that all trains in Toronto before the T-1s had nothing on the ceiling in the first place, and we all got by just fine. Why they're insisting on this "upgrade" now is beyond me.
The Shakes / July 18, 2014 at 03:57 pm
Not sure if it is the new train or the door operator, but the doors on the new train take forever to open. Seems to be a five second delay between the train stopping and the chimes ringing and then another 5 second delay between the chimes and the doors actually opening. Can they fix that while they're at it?
Tall One / July 18, 2014 at 04:06 pm
Being 6'5 the AC units are too low and having additional rails added will not be great... if anything add straps directly to the unit not impacting the height. I know its not just me who has to deal with this issue but many others.
6am-ttcrider / July 18, 2014 at 04:09 pm
Maybe playing those 3 notes and the "stand clear of the doors" announcement *before* the doors start closing and/or the train is already moving.
Kuba / July 18, 2014 at 04:12 pm
You WANT annoying??? Move to Montreal and take the Metro. No a.c., less than 40 seats per car, service every 6 minutes during rush hour, over 10 minutes in the evening, majority of the platforms do not have clocks. Seriously, stop your whining until you've experienced ANY public transportation ANYWHERE in the world
Gridlock / July 18, 2014 at 04:25 pm
I've never seen a comment section so full of f#@king puling, whining adult infants.

Wah, there aren't any handholds under the ACs!

Wah, now there are handholds under the ACs!

Wah, nobody gets exactly what they want!

Wah, I'm slightly inconvenienced by something!

Potrzebie replying to a comment from Gridlock / July 18, 2014 at 04:35 pm
Disagree with you. I'd say it's our DUTY to keep public servants on their toes.

If you DON'T complain, nothing will ever improve.
quitbitching replying to a comment from Potrzebie / July 18, 2014 at 05:36 pm
And what is the TTC supposed to do when the majority of these comments directly contradict each other? Everyone here has the easy solution, except no one can agree on what the real problem is, let alone a solution. These comments read like a parody of the worst whiny transit-riders (surprise surprise when the vast majority of BlogTO comments read like a parody of the worst whiny Torontonians). My personal faves are the ones who find it excruciating to wait THREE SECONDS for the doors to open; you might as well lead your complaint with "feel free to disregard this comment as I will clearly never be satisfied."
Mike the answer... / July 18, 2014 at 06:02 pm
$11 million for speakers... I stopped reading after that. What a joke these contracts are... at half a million for all the work bombardier is turning a profit. sad sad sad
rollwithit / July 18, 2014 at 06:05 pm
I think that they should also include a pole in the aisle infront of the doors. Sometimes, there are too many people in the subway who are stuck in the middle of the aisles without any handles to hold onto. It should be like the skytrain in Vancouver. :)
ShortOne / July 18, 2014 at 06:47 pm
Being 5'0 rush hour on the new trains is literally a balancing act for me, all of the handholds are too high for me to grab...including the ridiculous new ones. They really need to bring back the excessive amount of poles so that short people can hang on and the equally lucky tall people can stop hitting their heads.
d replying to a comment from Potrzebie / July 18, 2014 at 07:35 pm
You have to wait 3 seconds? That's awful. How do you stand it?
Sylvia / July 18, 2014 at 08:07 pm
While they are at it, they should hire a team to oil up those metal on metal hand pulls. I swear to gawd, from Yonge & Eg to King, listening to those sharp squeaks are enough to drive someone mad. Terrible engineering. Terrible.
Sylvia / July 18, 2014 at 08:09 pm
Oh, and for anyone out there old enough to remember, does the automated voice used to let people know about delays, sound exactly like the Logan's Run voice?????

Just sayin'.
Simon / July 18, 2014 at 08:11 pm
$15 million to install a bunch of hand rails? Talk about the cost of government projects ballooning out of control. What we need to do is privatize the system and turn a profit.
Sylvia / July 18, 2014 at 08:14 pm
Oh, and another thing. It's like the new buses with the steps up to the back. When these buses go downhill, it's a mess. I have seen one or a group or people all fall forward when the (skilled) bus driver starts to slow. Terrible design.
Scott / July 19, 2014 at 06:56 am
SCREW THIS! I hit my damn head on those things as is and now they want to add the lower rails! These trains are way too damn low and people need to realize that tall folks can't even stand up as it is! I am only 6'5" and its a nightmare for me on the new trains!
Pat / July 20, 2014 at 12:59 am
"Only" 6'5'? Sorry, but you're too tall. That is the issue. You have to realize that that is a type of not typical or "not normal" - normal as in what societal facilities and features are built towards. In this case, a train. You have to be realistic in that trains have a certain height and width range, and this is just one of many other things that have a certain range only.
Andrew / July 20, 2014 at 10:37 am
Lol 15 mill for some speakers and handrails? There is 70 trains.. Wtf are they made of gold? That's fucking stupid.. Fuck you TTC fuck you Ford.. Toronto is fucking up and I'm moving away.. Fucking 100 mill on a rock now these private fools spend stupid money.. Fucking morons..
j-rock / July 20, 2014 at 12:16 pm
While I do sympathize with you, anyone who is 5'0" or 6'5" must realize by now, that the engineers of the world are not building anything to your specifications. I'm 5'11" and life is good. But I will never know the joy of dunking a basketball, or whatever advantages being 5' tall confers.
Potrzebie replying to a comment from d / July 21, 2014 at 08:30 am
"You have to wait 3 seconds (for the door to open)? That's awful. How do you stand it?"

Let's say you have a long, 20-stop commute, which many people do. 3 seconds at each stop is 60 unneccessary seconds added to that commute. That's two minutes a day, 10 minutes a week, or about 8 hours a year (factoring vacation and holidays), JUST WAITING FOR THOSE DOORS TO OPEN.

Maybe your time isn't precious. Mine is.

There's nothing wrong with demanding the TTC be efficient.
Darren / July 23, 2014 at 10:36 am
There is a really simple solution, but the TTC will NOT do it because it makes sense. Move the grab bars from the middle to the sides. Two problems would be solved.

The second is tall people almost hitting their head on those grab bars. I have to crouch down whenever I walk through those trains.
calvinhc replying to a comment from Potrzebie / July 23, 2014 at 10:46 pm
Besides the way this extra time adds up for each of our commutes, this extra time has a serious impact on the subway system's capacity.

The extra seconds per stop means that the time between trains is increased, and this lowers capacity. The TR cars where passengers can now occupy the spaces that were formally taken up by four control cabs and the space between each car were supposed to increase capacity by about 5% to 10%.

Unfortunately, the extra delay before the doors can be opened after the train stops and before the train can move after the doors close (not to mention delays when things don't move smoothly), eats up that extra capacity.
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