Now that almost half of the TTC’s buses have lower floors, most riders have experienced the new design’s pluses and minuses.

The Orion 7 bus is easier to board, but can be hard to move through. Many riders seem reluctant to sit or stand in the raised back section, instead crowding the front of the bus.

In a letter to transit staff, commission chair Howard Moscoe describes the rear platform seats as “impossibly constraining and uncomfortable.”


He writes, “There was no public discussion about the design of these buses, nor did the design or seating configuration ever come before the Commission.”

While acknowledging that TTC staff are “aware of the problems and have been working on some options,” Moscoe wants riders to have a chance to comment on future vehicles, as well as on ways to retrofit buses the

TTC already owns.

Buying new streetcars, buses or trains can spark a major clash of priorities, between fitting in as many seats as possible or leaving space for people to stand or move about. Many riders want to be able to sit — preferably facing forward — while during rush hours we just hope to squeeze aboard.

TTC surface operations manager Bob Boutilier says the options on existing buses are limited — replace the second-last row with two side-facing chairs, or remove the four seats entirely and shift the other rows back. He says the TTC recently surveyed riders on what they thought of buses — about “design and specifically on the seating.” Most comments were general, asking for “more knee room,” for buses that are entirely low-floor as well as for better service on routes.

Boutilier says it is possible to go out for advice from riders as the TTC did this summer with a proposed new subway car design. “Certainly there’s time for that kind of input for (buses being delivered) in, let’s say, 2008 and beyond. But for the order that’s coming in 2007 -- I’m not sure we’re going to have that much of an opportunity,” says the transit official.