But the system has come to southwestern Ontario trains more recently.
“We extended this offer to other trains in the Corridor in 2014,” she said.
Reserved seating was first introduced in “Corridor East” trains - those serving eastern Ontario and Quebec.
There were several reasons for assigned seats.
One is to simply make it more convenient “for those travelling from the Eastern Corridor, where most trains had assigned seating, to Southwestern Ontario, where we had none,” Bélanger said.
The new system was also a response to “customer demand.”
But overall, reserved or “assigned” seating allows for “better planning and safety consideration,” she said.
There were three other reasons.
One is “optimization of space.”
If a customer books a ticket for just a portion of the route the reservation system looks for a seat that’s available for just that portion of the trip.
Another is “togetherness.”
Long-time travellers can recall how difficult it can be for family or friends to get two seats together on crowded trains.
The new system is designed to eliminate that problem as much as possible.
Then there’s privacy.
“Whenever possible, our system assigns seats in a specific order to keep some space between customers who aren’t travelling together,” Bélanger said.
The new system also alleviates that cattle-herding mentality as passengers jockey for position on the concourse before boarding to get the best seats on the train.
Now they can be last aboard with their seat freshly waiting for them.
Nevertheless there can be problems with assigned seating.
Occasionally passengers are given the same seat, Bélanger said.
Why should this happen?
One reasons is because a change was initiated by one passenger “who modified his reservation but forgot to print his new ticket.”
A second is because of VIA itself re-allocating seats due to a change in the type of equipment (coach car) being used.
“In these instances VIA will do its best to inform passengers by sending an email to all affected passengers,” Bélanger said.