Toronto's new fleet of streetcars, with their sleek new look and multiple upgrades, are hotly anticipated this summer. But as the new "rockets" tour the town on test drives, some unanticipated concerns have emerged.
From every angle the new streetcars look high tech: monitor cameras instead of mirrors, LED signs, air conditioning, and automatic ramps to make it easier for those with strollers, wheelchairs and bikes. And they can hold two-and-a-half times more people.
On Wednesday, the TTC invited streetcar riders to test them out.
While there is more overall space on the larger streetcars, riders weren't so excited about the leg room. Some complained that their legs had to overlap in some seats just to fit.
Transportation expert Steve Munro likes many of the new features, but is troubled by the doors. The new ones slide open instead of folding out, and are no longer visible to motorists along the sides of the cars.
"It's been getting worse over the last 10 years. A lot of motorists are simply ignoring the streetcar stops, never mind the new cars," he said.
The doors also worry mother of two Amy Bond.
"We always try to look before we get off because drivers in Toronto are pretty crazy," she said.
The TTC says the new cars will have lots of new signals telling drivers when to stop. There will be four more lights on the side and a light along the edge of the door. For motorists, lights will be shining at eye level.
The TTC says because the new cars are larger, there will be fewer on the road. This may cause some congestion.
"It's going to be really important for the TTC to ensure that they don't get a back up of three of four of these streetcars, these longer ones, all in a row and then a long wait between cars arriving," said one rider.
The new streetcars start to roll out at the end of August.