ttc facing seats

Toronto really hates those seats that face each other on the new TTC streetcars

With the very last of Toronto's old CLRV streetcars set to be retired at the end of this month, the city is moving into a new era of public transit — one where commuters are forced to touch knees and look at each other in the face.

For all of their benefits (higher capacity! better accessibility! increased shininess!) the TTC's new low-floor streetcars kind of suck to ride when they're busy. Especially for people with long legs.

Sure, commuters will get around faster when Bombardier finally, at long last, finishes delivering all 204 of the Flexity streetcars Toronto ordered back in 2012, but is it worth having to sit face to face with a stranger?

Probably. It's freaking uncomfortable, though.

People have been complaining about the seat layout on the TTC's new, much larger surface vehicles since the transit commission first started rolling them out back in 2014.

Some say there aren't enough seats. Others don't like the ratio of red seats to blue. One of the most common complaints I've heard (and seen around the internet), however, is about those horrid little four-people pods.

Arranged like a four-person restaurant booth (minus the table) with two seats facing forward and two facing back to greet them, several sets of these pods can be found in every segment of every new streetcar in Toronto.

They're great for a petite family of four, but not so much for a group of full-grown, sweaty, exhausted strangers after putting in long days at the office.

If you've ever been jammed into one of the window seats on a full car, I don't have to tell you how hard it is not to touch anyone else when there are passengers both beside you and directly in front of you.

Utterances of "sorry" are common among the temporary occupants of these pods, especially from people carrying any sort of bag.

The taller commuters among us have it the worst: Some literally can't even fit into one of these seats without their legs exploding into the aisle... or, even worse, going between another person's knees.

Most of us would rather stand than take the fourth seat in one of those intimate booths.

It's hard, as someone who doesn't design streetcars, to imagine why someone would design a streetcar this way.

There are, however, valid reasons for the Bombardier Flexity model's unfortunate layout.

"The layout and seat design is dictated by available space in the vehicle," explains TTC spokesperson Stuart Green. "Unlike the older streetcars, the wheel wells on the new cars sit up in the passenger area."

It is unclear why this means the seats have to face each other, but Green assures that the cars are expertly optimized.

"We do hear some complaints about the layout," said Green when asked about the face-to-face pods.

"But the fact remains they are optimized for maximum seating and hold double the number of people as the old cars."

Can't argue with that  

Some newer TTC buses are also optimized for maximum rideability. Novabus models have face-to-face hell seats as well.

"On a new TTC bus where there are seats in the rear that face each other," tweeted one rider upon discovering them. "Whoever designed this, doesn't ride the TTC."

"Still don't know what possessed the TTC to make 4 seats thats face each other with no leg room," tweeted another passenger who I hope will see this article and learn about the optimization thing. 

"Who thought this was a good idea?"

"I wish the TTC would listen to everyone's feedback. No one wants those seats that face the other person, it's awkward and uncomfortable," wrote another stil  

"BRO, THE TTC SEATS THAT FACE EACHOTHER I FUCKING CAN'T," reads one of the more emotionally raw posts on the subject. "DON'T STEP ON MY FUCKING SHOES UGHHHH."

Lead photo by

Lauren O'Neil


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