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TTC's radical new ride?


The TTC is considering a radical redesign for its next-generation subway cars.

It’s an “open concept” that would allow passengers to walk, and see, from the front of the six-car train to the back through open gangways. It would allow for more capacity, better flow of air and a streamlined design.

“So our sardines will be more comfortable sardines,” TTC chairman Howard Moscoe joked.

If all goes according to plan, including public consultation on what passengers say they need for a more comfortable ride, the TTC would sit down with a supplier in 2006, and the first of the new six-car trains would be riding the rails in about 2008.

“Everybody around the world is moving that way, for passenger convenience, capacity,” said TTC chief general manager Rick Ducharme. “The question I have is, `Why aren’t we?’

“Unless something new comes out of public reaction to this, that’s where we want to go.”

The TTC is hoping to buy up to 270 cars, making 45 trains. It currently has 678 cars. Almost 200 of them are about 30 years old. There’s no price tag yet, but the open-concept trains � built by Bombardier and in use in Hong Kong and Singapore � ultimately may be cheaper to build and operate than the estimated $3 million it would cost per car to buy ones that look the same as the current cars.In the new design, only the front and rear cars will have cabins for operators, instead of in each car as called for in the current six-car alignment.

That streamlines costs and adds to operating reliability because there will be only one-third as many electrical and mechanical components � all of which are prone to breakdowns.

Then there’s the matter of Moscoe’s wide-body “tushies.” With a nod to an � ahem � growing population, the councillor is on the record in wanting wider seats on TTC vehicles.

The streamlined, open design of the new six-car trains � perhaps with benches along the wall � may solve the tushies situation.

“The seats are just seats, just a concept,” Ducharme said of the photographs shown this week to TTC commissioners.

“I think what you’ll see is in order to make the design work, they’ll all be along the side. How long they are, and whether they’re bench, or whether they’re seats, that’s not going to make or break this concept.”