As a daily rider of public transit I know that the little things matter, and that every design tweak is important to the user experience. I was thrilled to learn that GO was continuing their legacy by bringing a new style of buses into service. Even though the variant of GO buses commonly known as the “New GO Buses” do not seem to be far spread through the system yet, GO has continued innovating with their “New New GO Buses”
At first I was very excited when I saw the distinctive shiny new yellow handle bars upon boarding the bus, but my reaction turned sour shortly after. The new design definitely takes a page from the previous generation. With nice curved seat backs that allow even the tallest passengers to ride comfortably. The air conditioning system seems to be even more effective than that of its predecessor, which is critical during this sweltering time of year in Southern Ontario. As previously mentioned the hand-holds are a nice bright shade of yellow that allow for quick location during the dark of night. They also retain their position on the top of the seats that was previously introduced in the “New GO Buses. Many of the features remain largely unchanged. The stop request is only a thin strip at the top of the window to prevent accidental requests, and the seats adjust using a square slider as opposed to the full length grip that controlled them in the first generation buses.
Despite these nice changes overall the new design feels like a step backwards. Instead of fixing the flimsy plastic t-ship foot rests found on the “New GO Buses” or simply reverting to the metal u-shaped foot rests from the first generation buses Metrolinx disappointingly decided to just remove the rests altogether. Another element of the design that has changed for the worse is the armrests. The new armrests are much wider, which can be seen as a plus, however, because of their shape they no longer push back all the way between the seats. On the plus side this serves as a small barrier between riders on a crowded bus, but on more sparsely populated buses it serves as a painful reminder of its presence when first taking a seat, and continues to remind you of its awkward placement whenever the rider tries to sit in any manner aside from facing straight forward.
While the “New New GO Buses” offer some welcomed improvements over its predecessors, certain elements of the design demonstrate that Metrolinx failed to pay attention to the fine details that can make or break a trip that the average rider takes ten times a week, often for more than an hour at a time. When such repetition is involved it’s the little things that matter, and it is clear that those elements were not taken into consideration.