This proposal aims to improve usability of the TTC system by increasing the carrying load of subways during times of maximum traffic. It focuses on the Bombardier T-1 subway car models, which were officially introduced in 1996 and are the newest models in the current subway system.1 Since the older models will soon be retired, it would be most economical to address the T-1. By increasing the capacity of these subways, the usability of the TTC subway system can be improved.
The T-1 model employs a subway seat layout that combines longitudinal seating (side seats facing inward) with transverse seating (seats facing forward or backward). Figure 1 shows the current arrangement of seats, which includes 66 seats and a total capacity of 250 passengers.2 Although usable, this layout is insufficient in meeting current and future demands.
During the morning and afternoon rush hour, TTC subway trains are often crowded. At major subway stations, due to congestion, the train cannot always accommodate all of the passengers currently waiting on the platform. Figure 2 presents a photo taken at the St. George subway station at 6 pm (during rush hour) on Feb. 12, 2008. In the image, the subway doors are closing on a full subway car while there are still passengers on the platform. Due to such overcrowding, these riders must wait for another, less-crowded train. Such waiting increases the riders\u2019 total commuting time and reduces their satisfaction with the TTC.
The overcrowding issue occurs generally during the morning and afternoon rush hours. In particular, during the peak of morning rush hour at approximately 8 am, the Yonge subway line is at full capacity.4 By increasing the space usage, the TTC\u2019s subway system can increase its capacity and avoid overcrowding.
The layout of the subway car does not encourage use of the car\u2019s maximum capacity. Two aspects of the layout that affect the usage of the subway\u2019s space are the position of seats and the position of stabilizing devices.
The seating layout of the T-1 subway cars does not maximize the space available to passengers. As shown in Figure 1, the combination of longitudinal seats and transverse seats causes an L-shaped configuration, where the aisle is narrowest (121 cm wide) between the transverse seats at the site labelled A. This narrowing of the aisle discourages standees from moving into this space. These passengers would more likely stand in the wider spaces close to the doors. In addition to the space wasted, these standees compromise passenger flow in the subway car, as riders enter and leave the train through the doors.
A stabilizing device is any method used by standees to remain in the same upright position as the subway train moves. Due to the acceleration of subway trains, most standees without stabilizing devices may stumble, fall, or collide with another person, all of which are undesirable. The TTC addresses the issue of standee stabilization mainly through the usage of three objects that passengers hold onto:
These objects are positioned throughout the subway car and their placement can affect how passengers use space in the subway. Poor positioning of stabilizing devices would therefore likely result in poor space usage.
Vertical poles in the T-1 subway car are located along the side seats and have a diameter of 3.5 cm. In Figure 3 the vertical poles between two doors are circled. Passengers that stand near the sides of the subway cars have poles within reach. However, the standees that must stand in the middle of the subway width, due to crowdedness, cannot hold onto a vertical pole. In particular, if a standee is at position A in Figure 3, the vertical poles are very far away. Previous TTC subway car models included poles in the middle of the subway car but issues regarding wheelchair accessibility caused the removal of such poles.5
To address the limitations of vertical poles, the T-1 subway car also uses horizontal grab bars and handles as stabilizing devices. The horizontal grab bars are located above the longitudinal seats and along the middle of the subway width. These bars are placed 185 cm above the subway floor. Although they are within reach of the average person, standees of short stature cannot reach the bars. Because of this, the TTC attaches a spring-loaded handle on the grab bars above the longitudinal seats. These handles can be pulled down and used as a stabilizing device. However, there are very few handles, none of which are located on the middle grab bar. Standees that cannot access the grab bars or the handles crowd around the vertical poles. Often, the area between poles is not used to its full capacity.
Due to the positioning and limitations of stabilizing devices, passengers do not use the standing area to its full capacity. Crowds are formed in certain areas while other spaces in the subway are underused. This inefficient space usage can be easily rectified by changing the nature or position of the stabilizing devices.
This proposal aims to increase passenger capacity by optimizing space usage on subways. This improvement to the TTC subway system is essential, as it promotes greater usability and addresses the growing ridership. In addition, increasing capacity by means of maximizing space usage is more cost-effective than other methods.
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