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Comparing the S-Bahn to the Scarborough LRT

I went to my home town in July an d rode the old LRT - a light rail transit part of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). It had a derailing a couple of weeks later. Since then I've been on public transit in Berlin. What a difference!

    1. S-Bahn has more space for wheelchairs and strollers

    This also makes it easier to get a bike or rolly cart (for grocery shopping) aboard

    2. S-Bahn has more priority seating

    For seniors and persons with disabilities

    3. S-Bahn has more visual announcements about next stops

    Not only can I read the next stop, but the next 2 stops after it. Audio announcements are easily mis-heard or missed entirely so a visual sign with real-time info is very helpful.

    4. Tickets Part 1

    On the S-Bahn, you can buy your ticket from a machine on the platform. You also validate the ticket on a different machine. On the TTC, you can't access the platforms until you've given a ticket or other fare payment. There may be more 'fare-stealing' in the German system, but I have to say it feels more friendly and convenient.

    5. Tickets Part 2

    Fares are somewhat complicated in Berlin as there are different zones that are included/excluded from your fare. There are different options (including a 4 fare bundle which comes on 2 slips of paper). The TTC is simpler, in this regard.

    6. Navigation Part 1

    The transit maps shown on the S-Bahn only show the S-Bahn network, not the trams, subways or buses you can connect to. The system is so massive you can't get that much information onto a map. TTC maps can show all the subway lines and LRT in a single poster.

    7. Navigation Part 2

    The complexity of the Berlin system does make it seem more like you can get to the front doorstep of where you are going. We took a bus to an S-Bahn to another S-Bahn (accessible from the same platform) to a tram and travelled about 44km in around 90 minutes. The TTC took us about that time to travel nearly half the distance, and my final destination was within a walk of a subway station.

    8. Conclusions

    Through my work, I sometimes get a high-level view of some transit modernization efforts in Canada, so I'm hopeful that it can reach the kind of service levels and ridership we can see in Europe.

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