The issue of any new projects at the TTC is bound up in questions of provincial and federal funding right now, but at least one logjam is out of the way.
It turns out that one reason the Budget Advisory Committee was holding down the proposed order for new streetcars versus the rebuilding of all 196 old CLRVs is this: Siemens, the supplier of the new electronics packages for the CLRVs, was not guaranteeing their price for an extended order (from 100 to 196) beyond this summer. In effect, the TTC had to commit to the 196 cars now in order to get the current price.
Someone at Siemens woke up recently to the fact that they have no hope of bidding on a new streetcar order if they put Council and the TTC’s feet to the fire to commit to a 196-CLRV rebuild now. Siemens wrote a letter extending the firm price to March 2007 which was considered at Policy & Finance Committee yesterday (the same day as the TTC meeting). This mollified the budget hawks who will now let the whole question go forward as part of the 2007 budget process.
Of course, if no additional money shows up from somewhere, we are not going to commit to any new projects, let alone have money to deal with stuff that’s already on the books. TTC officials are meeting with folks from Queen’s Park tomorrow (Friday) to discuss this issue.
There is a much larger issue of the City’s capital budget problems generally. If you want a really long read, you can look at the report on the City’s website here. The fundamental issue is that on a broad basis the City is taking in far less revenue than is needed to fund the capital budget, and the TTC accounts for over half of this problem. Unless there are major changes in City and especially transit funding, the TTC as we know it will collapse.
[Warning: if you are going to print this, stop at around page 48 because the rest is mostly blank pages. Starting on page 80, there is a copy of an old report about the St. Clair project.]