By Matthew Smith with files from Terry Elkady
Although Mayor Rob Ford prefers the subway, 204 new streetcars will hit the rails in Toronto by 2014, with a price tag of more than $1 billion.
“The new low-floor streetcars are fully accessible, they have increased capacity . . . and they have air conditioning, which is a benefit to all especially in the summer,” TTC chair Karen Stintz told reporters at a media preview at the Hillcrest Yard Thursday.
The newest versions of the venerable Red Rockets will be built by Bombardier Inc. at its Thunder Bay plant. Each of the 28-metre-long vehicles has space for 142 passengers, according to an earlier statement by the manufacturer.
York-Simcoe Conservative MP Peter Van Loan said strong public transit is an important part of insuring quality of life in the city.
“Good public transit needs to keep pace and we are continuing to make improvements and efficiencies everyday while at the same time reducing greenhouse gases, connecting workers with jobs and keeping the economy moving in the right direction,” said the federal government house leader.
To coincide with the rolling-out of the new streetcars, the TTC plans to put next-generation electronically-readable PRESTO fare cards to work system-wide.
Bruce McCuaig, president and chief executive officer of Metrolinx, said new PRESTO fare cards “will build on the system that exists today with new features such as open payment.”
“Customers will have the choice of using the PRESTO card, a credit card, a debit card and ultimately a mobile device to pay their fares,” he said.
Toronto has a total of 11 streetcar routes with about 250,000 daily riders.
TTC chair Karen Stintz talks to the media: