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Rear seating on new buses makes Moscoe uncomfortable

TTC chairman wants to give riders more room

James Cowan, National Post
Published: Friday, September 15, 2006

TTC chairman Howard Moscoe promises efforts are underway to address two common gripes about the transit system: the quality of its merchandise and crowded seating on its new buses.

In a letter to his fellow transit commissioners released yesterday, Mr. Moscoe proposes reconfiguring the seats at the back of the TTC’s new low-floor Orion buses. Mr. Moscoe states the seats, crowded on a raised platform above the rear wheels, are “impossibly constrained and uncomfortable.”

“It’s been a disaster,” Mr. Moscoe told reporters yesterday. “You can’t see if seats are available on the platform, that’s the first thing that’s wrong, and secondly, they’re jammed together so you can’t get a comfortable seat unless your legs are two inches long.”

The low-floor buses, designed to accommodate wheelchairs in their front section, were introduced in 2003. There are more than 500 on the street with 320 scheduled to be added to the fleet in 2007 and an additional 148 in 2008.

Gary Webster, the TTC’s acting chief general manager, admitted staff made mistakes when they designed the buses.

“We have to recognize that we went too far,” Mr. Webster said. “The seats are too tight and a lot of members of the public can’t use them.”

Mr. Webster said it is difficult to move seats on existing vehicles but the problem can likely be solved before additional buses are built.

“We can’t easily reconfigure the seats without disturbing the heat ducts below and exposing what’s below,” Mr. Webster said. “There isn’t anything we can do to retrofit what we have, so what we’re talking is our next orders.”

The solution could involve adjusting the layout of seats or making them thinner, Mr. Moscoe said. “I think we might be able to do it without reducing seats by re-engineering the upper deck.”

Mr. Moscoe also addressed complaints the T-shirts and other paraphernalia available at the new TTC store in Union Station are unoriginal and uninspiring. Noting the store does not officially open for another two weeks, Mr. Moscoe promised there is a new generation of TTC tchotchkes on the way.

“I believe there’s a whole wide range of new products just waiting for TTC approval,” Mr. Moscoe said.

The councillor was less optimistic about the future of bike racks on TTC buses. A report from TTC staff released yesterday noted a maximum of 20 people daily used the rack on the Dufferin bus as part of a recent pilot project. The report notes the number of users represented a tiny portion of the 43,300 people who rode the bus each day. “I’m still thinking about that one,” Mr. Moscoe said.

The TTC also announced yesterday it has experienced an increase in transit pass forgery over the past four months. Since July, 120 people have been charged with fraud and other offences for either using or selling a fake Metropass.

Staff Sergeant Mark Russell of TTC Special Investigations said the forgeries are “high quality” but can be identified because their magnetic strips do not function. He said the passes have been sold in workplaces, on college campuses and across the Internet.

jcowan@nationalpost.com




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