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TTC welcomes DIY streetcar designers

Riders can propose a bold new colour scheme or a name
for the next generation of vehicles

By Tess Kalinowski
Transportation Reporter

TTC officials have already committed $1.2 billion to buying Toronto new streetcars. Now they want your two cents on how those vehicles should look.

Sick of red and cream? Think “Rocket” is a dumb name for a streetcar that leaves you on the curb?

Riders are being invited to click on to complete a survey, offer interior and exterior colour suggestions, or proffer name suggestions for the cars that will be arriving in Toronto for testing next year. You can even put your name in to be part of a focus group.

The 204 cars, which will replace the existing fleet on the downtown routes, arrive for testing next year and go into service in 2013.

The new website includes black and white renderings of the streetcars and their interiors, which can be downloaded and coloured in. It also explains how earlier generations of streetcars got their names and invites riders to submit their ideas for this one.

It was, after all, a TTC rider who chose Toronto Rocket as the name for the new subway cars coming later this year.

Although most of the major streetcar design is decided, including the seat layout, “there are some finer details” still to be determined, said the TTC’s Kevin Seto.

Bike racks, for instance, will be inside the cars, but whether they are vertical or horizontal still isn’t decided.

“The whole exterior paint scheme is up for grabs,” he said.

Seat fabric suggestions are welcome, as are preferences for the entire interior colour scheme, including the walls and ceilings.

Five industrial, interior design and transit experts will choose among the public suggestions and bring the top ideas back to the website for more discussion.

The new, longer cars will accommodate about 270 riders versus about 132 on the existing CRVs. And the old pull-cord stop indicators will be replaced with push-buttons throughout the streetcars, said Stephen Lam, superintendent of light rail engineering.

Meantime, the TTC is exercising its option to buy more Toronto Rocket subway cars from Bombardier.

City councillors on the Toronto Transit Commission voted last week to buy 31 additional train sets, each with six cars, for $398.5 million. Twenty-one of the trains will be replacements for the existing fleet and 10 will furnish the Spadina subway extension to York, which is expected to be running by 2015.

All the cars would be delivered by 2013.

The original contract was awarded in 2006 for $710 million for 39 train sets, the first of which will be delivered by fall for testing in the tunnels. They won’t be in service until late this year or early next. It will be about two years before the entire original order is delivered.