New Streetcars Sooner, Not Later? (Updated)

[This item has been updated to correct some typos, and to add a concluding paragraph that I forgot to put in before publishing it.] 

Yesterday’s Toronto Sun reported that a proposal for 100 of the CLRVs to be refurbished by Bombardier’s Thunder Bay plant is on hold.  Some history is needed to put this in context.

For quite some time, the TTC has looked at new or refurbished streetcars.  New cars always seemed to have an astronomical price tag, but refurbishing was neither cheap nor a long-term option.

Any price quoted for a new streetcar, commonly $3- to $5-million per vehicle, provoked sticker shock.  Oddly, nobody ever mentioned the size of the vehicles in this discussion.  Given the TTC’s long anti-streetcar history (now mellowed to grudgingly accept that there is a place for LRT), the suspicious among us might think that this was a deliberate strategy to make streetcars look prohibitively expensive.

Current talk is for a $3-million car that will be larger even than an ALRV or subway car, and that’s not a bad price for a vehicle of that size (more about service impacts later).  If we can actually get new cars for that price, the comparison against a $1-million CLRV retrofit doesn’t look so bad (almost twice the car and at least double the lifespan for about three times the money). Continue reading