Updated November 9, 2007: Today’s Globe and Mail contains an article by Jeff Gray describing the objections by one potential bidder, Vossloh Kiepe, to the 100% low floor specification in the soon-to-be-released Request For Proposals for new cars.
My original post and reader comments follow below.
The TTC has recently notified bidders for a new generation of streetcar/LRV that the Commission has decided to opt for a 100% low floor car.
… a directive we [TTC vehicle engineering] received from our Senior Management about floor configuration of the low floor vehicle.
After having given considerable consideration about the merits and disadvantages of partial and 100% low floor vehicle configurations, the Commission has determined that the new vehicle shall provide 100% low floor area throughout the vehicle, except the operator’s cab.
No internal steps will be permitted in the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
This decision came about after a series of recent technical meetings. We confirm and accept that gradeability and adhesion limit dictate that currently available vehicle designs cannot support an adhesive weight greater than that offered by an unpowered low floor centre truck. We assessed the risks involved in deploying 100% low floor vehicles on a mature surface rail system like that of the TTC. We believe this decision offers our customers the best balance between passenger accessibility, safety, comfort and wheel-rail interface.
This change will have a significant effect on the models offered by maunfacturers to the TTC. Those we have seen in Toronto to date are not 100% low floor, and in a way this sends bidders back to the drawing boards.
The reference that “… the Commission has determined …” is intriguing because there has not been a public meeting of the Commission at which such a decision could have been made. Have the technical and cost implications of this position been explained to the Commissioners?
Meanwhile, we can also expect to see the TTC admit that their long adherence to trolley pole power collection is simply unworkable for the new fleet. We already know that the ALRVs were de-tuned to have lower acceleration than the CLRVs because they drew too much power for a trolley shoe pickup. Riders on ALRV-operated routes have suffered a few decades of sluggish operation thanks to that situation.
Any new cars must be capable of operation on new suburban lines and possibly even as a standard for the GTA. The performance required for these operations cannot be achieved without pantographs.
After years of rebuilding Toronto’s overhead in trolley pole configuration, the TTC will have to revisit its entire network and resume a process that, in part, started with the overhead on Spadina 10 years ago.