TTC Cancels Streetcar Request for Proposals (Update 4)

Updated July 20, 10:00 pm:

TTC Chair Adam Giambrone now admits that his statements about information in Bombardier’s bid referred to TTC staff remarks, not Bombardier’s submission itself. 

See coverage in the Globe and Star.

I can’t help finding this situation very embarrassing for the bid process, and distressing because of the potentail for delay in procurement of cars for both the “city” streetcar system and for Transit City.

Updated July 18, 4:10 pm:

Additional media reports in the Globe Report on Business and in the Sun.

Updated July 18, 6:30 am:

Media reports on this issue appear in the Star, Globe and National Post.

Updated July 17, 10:10 pm:

When a story this big lands at 4:30 in the afternoon via a press release, there is usually a flurry of interest and followup information, but so far things have been fairly quiet.  In the absence of specific comments, here are a bunch of questions for everyone involved:

  • Why did Bombardier tell us throughout the RFP process that they had a car for Toronto, and happily let the CAW shill for them to keep jobs in Thunder Bay, only to turn around and bid a non-compliant car.  Did they think that the TTC would automatically turn to them for an alternate design without widening the field?
  • The TTC press release states that they can sort out the problems with some manufacturer over the next four weeks.  How is this possible unless Bombardier already has a “plan B” ready to go? 
  • Why was the TTC so confident, when they changed their spec midway through the process to require 100% low floor vehicles, that this would not compromise bidders’ ability to propose a compatible vehicle?
  • What parts of the spec, beyond the tight curves on our street railway system, are impediments to other vendors, or are they just tired of all orders going to Bombardier and not bothering to waste their time on a bid?
  • Has the TTC considered whether other operators of “legacy” street railway systems in North America might also have a need for cars that fit on older systems where PCCs had no problem operating for decades?
  • What is the future of our streetcar system with an aging fleet of CLRVs and ALRVs rumoured to be less than 100% available?  Will the TTC at least commit the resources needed to get all of its current fleet back on the road?
  • How will a delay in acquiring new “city” cars affect plans for Transit City?

Inevitably, opponents of the TTC and of LRT in general will seize on this foul-up to show how the TTC can’t plan properly (as if we had any sterling examples elsewhere in these parts), and how an all subway, BRT and maybe even RT network is just the ticket.  They would be wrong, and any agency or politician who attempts such an attack will get no quarter from me.

Yes, this is a bad situation.  Toronto dithered for years about new versus rebuilt streetcars, finally opted for all new, then changed their spec to all low-floor, and now faces a delay for which there really wasn’t any room in the schedule.  Moreover, they still don’t know who will pay for the new fleet.

Metrolinx for its part is still pulling together a regional transportation plan, but seems to be pricing themselves out of the market.  Their plan has a huge capital and operating cost, and does nothing to improve local transit service, an essential part of any regional scheme.  Any move by Metrolinx to slip into a perceived vacuum at the TTC would be complete folly.

Indeed, Metrolinx was specifically set up not to be a local transit operator for fear of alienating the 905 municipalities forming the heart of its Board.  The last thing Metrolinx needs is having to explain what passes for service on the Queen Car.

The TTC needs to be upfront about the problems, about why so few bids were received and about what can be done to get real competition.  They need to re-establish Toronto as a credible city in which any vendor other than Bombardier actually has a chance of winning business.

[Original Post and News Release below]

I have just received the following press release from the TTC.  I will comment on this once the dust has settled a bit.

News Release

July 17, 2008

TTC cancels streetcar RFP Bids ruled non-compliant

The Toronto Transit Commission today announced that it has cancelled the Request for Proposal process to purchase 204 new low-floor streetcars. The bids it received have been deemed non-compliant. The TTC is now reviewing its options to ensure the current streetcar fleet is replaced starting in 2012 with new, accessible vehicles.

The TTC received two submissions for the $1.25 billion project. TRAM Power Ltd. and Bombardier Transportation submitted bids, but upon review TRAM Power failed to pass step one of the bid review process as it was not commercially compliant. Bombardier Transportation failed on step two – a technical evaluation that required a pass/fail on key criteria related to negotiating the tight turning radii on the TTC’s existing streetcar rail system.

A Fairness Monitor was retained to oversee the procurement process and concurs that the TTC has followed the process as set out in the RFP and also concurs with the cancellation of the RFP.

Under its procurement rules, the TTC may contact any vendor, including those who responded to a Request for Expressions of Interest, a process undertaken before the RFP was issued, and begin discussions to determine what, if any, issues or concerns any of the companies may have with respect to the requirements of this RFP.

The TTC is confident that it can work with a vendor to remain on schedule and meet its needs for new streetcars, including the option to purchase up to an additional 364 streetcars for Transit City. Using the specifications set-out in the original RFP, the TTC will now contact known and proven streetcar manufacturers to identify and discuss the issues that led the companies to a decision either not to bid, or to submit a bid that is not compliant.

This process will take approximately four weeks to complete. The TTC will then make a recommendation to the Commission on next steps.

The Toronto Transit Commission moves 460 million people every year – about 1.5 million riders every weekday. The TTC is the third largest public transit system in North America servicing some 4.5 million people in the Greater Toronto Area, with a network of subways, streetcars, buses, and a specialized service, Wheel-Trans, for people who require accessible transportation. An arms-length agency of the City of Toronto, the TTC is committed to meeting the growing needs of the region with subway and light rail expansion, carrying an additional 175 million riders by 2021. For more information, visit


Media contact: Brad Ross, Director, Corporate Communications, 416-393-3598 or cell, 416-206-3727

42 thoughts on “TTC Cancels Streetcar Request for Proposals (Update 4)

  1. Wow..

    TRAM Power, I am not surprised. They do not even have a 100% low floor model. But Bombardier has a model that designed for tight radii. Will Toronto have to design their own streetcar again?


  2. Is there any chance Siemens could come back into the fold? I’m assuming they were one of the bidders cut by the TTC.

    Steve: Siemens chose not to bid for their own reasons. It may have been a combination of their own worldwide cutbacks in workforce along with a sense that the fix was in for Bombardier, whether it really was or not.


  3. If I had to guess, it’s not that there was a real technical problem with Bombardier modifying their vehicle for our curves, as much as the TTC not being satisfied with the explanation they put in the bid. That said, it is just a guess, and I suspect we’ll be hearing more about this soon.


  4. While I guess the obvious joke is to predict that they’re just going to drop whatever requirements Bombardier doesn’t want to meet and then hand them the contract, I do wonder how they’re going to resolve this. If nobody can get around the corners, what’s to be done?


  5. You might add this to your list of questions (and perhaps it explains why things are fairly quiet): why, seven hours later, is this release not available on the TTC media releases page and is that why none of the traditional media seems to have picked up the story so far?

    Maybe I’ve missed something and the usual process is being followed. But if anyone at City Hall plans to emulate the federal Tories by hand-picking which outlets get the news, they need to rethink that strategy even faster than they re-think the streetcar RFP.

    Steve: The press release went to all of the local media on the TTC’s standard distribution list, and I was called by both the Star and the CBC shortly after it came out. Also, the release is up on their site. I think the dearth of background information is what’s holding up any detailed coverage.


  6. Ultimately companies don’t bid because they don’t think they can win with a deliverable concept that will be worth the risk and investment. The “why’s” behind that are purely speculative. However, on the whole, it’s time for the city and TTC to look inward for the answers.

    I’ve been involved in preparing proposals (in IT consulting) that we new were non-compliant in some fashion. This usually happens with troublesome clients who insist on fixed price – but have behaved badly in the past. It also happens if there are requirements that are not feasible. Usually, we indicate if their are particularly troublesome requirements during discussions before submission – (where allowed.)

    In general, I suspect most competitors dropped out on account of a combination of:

    1. The radius requirements
    2. Toronto and the TTC’s poor track record – especially in the last few years in terms of supplier relationships (We’ve seen a series of fiascos – with Union Station, Regent’s Park and now the Islington station rebuild seeing vendor dropped or drop out. These occurences don’t go unnoticed amongst potential suppliers – and will cost Toronto big time until we can turf out the current set of politicians.)

    For Bombardier, I suspect that gave some advance but indirect indication that the bid would not meet the radius requirements. No modern LRT has anything close to the requirements for the TTC’s legacy network. Engineering changes to current production models to meet the requirements were either deemed not feasible – or too expensive.

    Another point with heavily customized products that are a stretch from an engineering perspective is that if technical/reliability problems arise, it can impact the supplier’s reputation. (These have been the great bugaboo of our current models.) The last thing we need is another CLRV/ALRV debacle – and potential suppliers don’t want a debacle either.


  7. Hi Steve:-

    Well, well, well, somehow I’m not at all surprised. Before these bids were received I was thinking about the history of streetcar development from the 1890s and knew full well that melding what had gone before could have passed every requirement for a streetcar in Toronto with the exception of 100% lowfloor. Is that requirement really an absolute necessity to match the needs, wants and demands of the present and future streetcar rider in Toronto? Is it even an absolute need to match that requirement to receive provincial and may we dream, ‘federal’ subsidy?

    Are there double standards here as has been seen in other streetcar versus the alternative comparisons? You betcha! Why? Well absolute ignorance of what can be for one. Blinkered vision and stubborn refusal to accept what Transit City really does offer for other reasons! We are buying a huge fleet of carbon spewing buses that are not 100% lowfloor! Why is a 100% lowfloor streetcar an absolute necessity here? Those buses are not even 70%, probably more like 50%, but they keep turning up on our streets in full diesel and diesel electric varieties do they not?!

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here again for it bears repeating. The highly successful PCC car was able to turn a 35 foot radius curve with ease on 5 foot 2 and one half inch gauge trucks with a seating capacity close to the seated/ standee capacity of the ultra modern, half low-floor Orion bus! Why are today’s engineers unable to see the past and thus are limiting our future? Sarajevo took second hand 10 year old and older PCCs and successfully made them articulated, thus increasing vehicle capacity by 50% or more with still only one operator. True they were not lowfloor (lower though than a CLRV or ALRV), but a place to start to redesign and then work from!

    I know the UTDC had to reinvent round wheels, for their bright lights needed help to recognize what a transit vehicle even was! Erzatz, we got ICTS and CLRVs! Weren’t we the lucky ones! Now Toronto is still trying to play catch up on the world transit stage! Are we not beyond the UTDCs inability to supply what transit properties really need? Will we be stuck with a revitalized UTDC mentality to give us what we want?

    I can’t believe that of the many hundreds of miles of streetcar track still in service in the world that Toronto is at the extreme end of radius minimums and grade climbing requirements and therfore unable to find a lowfloor, articulated modern car design powerful enough to fullfil our city’s needs, for surely, something approximating our requirements must be out there somewhere?

    100% lowfloor is a lovely ‘utopian’ idea that has been sought after for decades by transit visionaries, researchers and manufacturers! Oh they’ve been built, but have any of them survived under the daily demands of weather, loading and traffic conditions that the reality of a workaday, northerly, high capacity transit system, like our TTC, must demand? Does getting new streetcars for Toronto really have to be as stifling as insisting that we get the car that no one else has ever had the luck to put into service on their system, even though their dreams are in concert with ours? Ya, I know, we’re the best and they aren’t, so there nyaaa!

    Reliability, maintainability, economy of scale, flexibility, some lowfloor areas and modular expandability are the ideal elements of a modern streetcar and the wherewithal to build one must be somewhere in the world in a thinking man’s company? Is it because it’s Toronto or Ontariariario or because of the way that the proposal to bid was written that those who can build this vehicle won’t offer their services to us? With that said, if this negates 100% lowfloor and merely allows us the options now of cosidering a merely 70% lowfloor vehicle to get that good, reliable streetcar on Toronto’s streets, then folks start rethinking, for our turning radii and power requirements have been with us for almost 100 years, and only until now when we’re dreaming of eating that pie in the sky can we not find a car that will do!

    And consider too the extremely antiquated Peter Witt cars with only four motors that daily, for nearly twenty years, in all weather conditions, pulled themselves and a dead weight non-powered trailer up the Avenue Road hill, having both motor and trailer loaded to the doors with passengers! Oh, right, I’m dreaming, I’ve made it up, that wasn’t true for it couldn’t have happened. Noope; nothing back then could do what ICTS can do, now could it!?

    Building on the past is a necessity in every walk of life. Those that don’t are destined to repeat the bumbles and failures of our predecessors who took the time to build on their experiments. Considering what streetcars of the past could do and did, can we afford to throw all of history away and therefore be that insistant on those ‘utopian’ dreams contained in the ‘proposals for bids’, particularly when dirty diesels don’t have to comply?

    Mr. D.


  8. Wow, this is definitely not the outcome I expected! Perhaps this is the best thing that could have happened given how much of the process turned my stomach. This could be a real dose of reality for the TTC. It must have absolutely pained them to admit they might actually have to listen to all the outside voices that tried to open their eyes all along the way.

    By the way, what exactly did they mean by “not commercially compliant”?

    Steve: That phrase covers a variety of things including payment schedules, bid bonds and warranties. Until the TTC tells us which one(s) apply here, I would just be guessing.


  9. Something fishy is going on. That’s really all I can say, this is just not right. Bombardier would not fail on something so simple knowingly without having a reason, and the TTC would not be so unclear knowingly without also having a reason (I have a hard time thinking Bombardier is surprised at this, unless that’s what the TTC wanted).

    IMHO the only thing that makes sense is if the TTC and/or Bombardier wants to get a “mostly” low-floor LRV up and running (think Ottawa’s O-Train, or even the lower decks of GO’s rail cars – all the doors are “low floor” but there are “high floor” sections).


  10. My real fear, and I don’t think it is total paranoia : so much dragging of the feet and indecision that Toronto might lose streetcars altogether.


  11. Here’s a question I’ve posed before but I’m not sure anyone ever had an answer on:

    Where are the most radius limited parts of the streetcar system, and how much would it cost to rebuild them or eliminate them only to the extent that it would permit Bombardier and others to more easily meet TTC specs?

    I’m intrigued as to how Chairman Giambrone reckons there will only be a six week delay and better yet no delay in delivery when he hasn’t had an explanation from BBD and any contact with the withdrawn bidders.


  12. The TTC may be ready to create their own hybrid streetcar, not with batteries on the car roof, but with an assemblage of the best parts from manufacturers all around the world. With the new Fleet Street trackage ready for pantographs (or trolley poles) it wouldn’t be too hard to install operator’s cabs at both ends of the cars, and crossovers at the terminal points of the line.


  13. This is pathetic. The City of Toronto approves an $11 million EA for the demolition of part of the Gardiner and it seems like they will approve the whole “$300 million” cost but yet they don’t even know whose going to pay for the new fleet of streetcars. This really shows how organized they are over there.


  14. A new Globe article is [online. See link at top of the item.]

    Bombardier is “baffled” and angry at Giambrone’s comment that they knowingly submitted a noncompliant bid. Meanwhile, Siemens seems willing to reassess.

    This is getting very very peculiar.


  15. It’s interesting to note in the Toronto Star’s article that the TTC says the need to sit down with Bombardier to determine why they submitted a non-compliant bid. The TTC also said that they don’t feel that this situation will create more than a minor delay in acquiring new streetcars.

    I don’t think the TTC can make any realistic projection about what the associated delay, if any, will be until they have that meeting and the issues and potential solutions are hashed out – at this point, I think saying the delay will be minor is premature because right now, they haven’t sat down with Bombardier to establish the facts.

    My curiosity surrounds exact issue that caused the one remaining bid to be disqualified and how it was off spec. Once this becomes known, then true insightful debate can occur.

    With respect to David Cavlovic’s concern that this could lead to the abandonment of streetcars, this is a concern but it’s partially offset by the fact that the CLRVs were projected to have a service life of 40 years. There’s a good chunk of time left if you go by the original estimate which stood, until quite recently and the decision to buy new vehicles was made. Only then was it shortened to 30 years, comparable to what the TTC’s always said about subway cars. The investment in physical plant in recent years has been tremendous – lots of overhead wire work, all of the track work that’s been going on, and other things like the awarding of contracts to replace the oldest parts of the DC traction power distribution system. This heavily weighs against abandoning streetcars and throwing all this investment away. I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that.


  16. I think that if the TTC just dropped the 100% low floor requirement that would free up some of the trouble. I also wonder if there is any way a CLRV or ALRV could be modified to drop the floor low between the bogies. Also, since it was Bombardier who bought the UTDC, I assume that the company still has the plans for the CLRV. Perhaps this could be the opportunity towards looking into the design of a lighter new generation CLRV/ALRV with dropped floors between the bogies. In a way this would be no different than the Orion 7s which have a low floor at the front and a high floor at the back. And of course when Bombardier had its LRV mock up on display, it could be seen that some parts were low floor and others high floor. There was one attempt to make a 100% low floor bus with Orion, which resulted in the Orion 6. The design was so flawed that while the Commission was recently retiring Orion 6s from as recently as 1998, GM New Look “fishbowls” from 1982 were and still are plying our city roads.

    Steve: The last thing we need is a new generation of CLRVs. Those cars are overbuilt with unnecessarily heavy undercarriages and high performance propulsion on the premise that they would run at over 100km/h on a suburban network. The electronics are outdated, and one of the major changes originally planned for the TTC’s CLRV retrofit program was the installation of new control gear. This would be both more reliable, and technologically modern and easy to maintain.

    Hanging a low floor section between the two powered trucks still leaves us with the problem of a truck under the articulation. This would have to be a very different design from the existing CLRV/ALRV arrangement as it would be in the low floor section of the car. Now we’re back to having to design for a new environment, and it would be better that we just buy an off-the-shelf (or as close to as reasonable) design that is already supported by years of use in the field.


  17. So far this has turned into another pathetic example of the electors getting what they deserve instead of what they need. With the voting percentage in municipal elections being abysmal why do we expect good governance?

    As to why the BBD bid wasn’t acceptable technically I recall that the new cars would need to be able to navigate the Union and Spadina street car loops. Also in doing so push a CLRV out of the same. Union is pretty tight based upon the squeal going around the loop. It’s been a while since I was last in Spadina. There are some close turns at places like Queen and Broadview, although I’m not sure they are 11m.

    I can’t help but agree that the TTC needs to start addressing the shortage of existing equipment as with this dithering we will be well on our way to being without streetcars. Which may very well be an ulterior motive.

    Steve you also forgot to include the link to that bastion of “fair and balanced ” reporting on this issue on the Toronto Sun website [I have fixed this]. I for one can’t wait for Sue-Ann Levy to bring her insightful comments to print on this issue. Ouch, that was my tongue!


  18. The last paragraph of the Globe ROB article is a telling example of why the TTC shouldn’t cave into pressure to play favourites with Canadian suppliers: while they might get a little credit for the jobs created, they’re also held responsible when the work dries up. Keeping the plant in Thunder Bay busy is a job for Bombardier’s sales department, not the TTC.


  19. Having been in Amsterdam a month or so ago and having been on their Siemens streetcars and in Brussels and on their Bombardier ones I cannot understand why there is such a fuss about Toronto’s tight corners. I do not have specifics of radius but it seems to me, as a passenger, that ours are no worse.

    In Amsterdam many, but not all, streetcars were 100% low-ride but I agree with others who wonder if we really need 100%; nice, ‘yes’; essential, ‘no’. Our buses are not 100% and we seem to manage fine.

    Steve, are a few of the corners on our “legacy network” excessively tight? If so it might make more sense to fix these rather than trying to design or modify a proven design to cope with them?

    Steve: Aside from some tight curves in carhouses that could be dealt with simply by building the proposed new carhouse, there is the little matter of Union Station Loop. It was ridiculously tight when it was built and is a major impediment to increasing capacity. Some other loops on the system (Coxwell Queen as an example) have very tight curves. These are not easy to fix because the locations are constrained by street geometry. Of course there’s always the option for double-ended cars, but so far that is proposed only for the suburban fleet on Transit City lines.


  20. This ought to be a wakeup call to the TTC to clean up their bidding process and to put serious thought into reconstructing chokepoints on the network to comply with contemporary standards.

    Steve: I’m not sure that the bidding process is at fault here. Current media reports indicate that Bombardier thinks it did not submit a non-compliant bid. The real political issue is that they were the only major bidder.


  21. The problem is that Bombardier had apparently chosen to use European standards on wheel size, track condition and other specifications instead of the TTC’s. When the TTC used the TTC’s own specs it would fail, when the European specs are used it would apparently pass. TTC and Bombardier are to sit together soon and wrestle over this matter. I hope it’s not a grudge match.


  22. Dear Steve,
    TRAM Power, like Bombardier, is surprised by this turn of events. The “Commercial” non compliance in our case was our proposal to deposit a BOND when negotiating a contract. Most European tramways have been progressively rebuilt and modernised with more generous curves, typically greater than 25m (82ft), to which most of the existing manufacturers have designed their current vehicles.

    The critical part of the TRAM Power offer is the City Class, an articulated streetcar that has been designed and tested around tight curves, likeToronto (39ft). This was undertaken in Birkenhead and Blackpool, the oldest electric tramway in the world, operating since 1885, with poor track, like Toronto. Both have tight curves, including reverse curves tighter than Toronto, and 8% gradients. The City Class has been designed with Blackpool Transport, and includes between 80 and 100 seats (and two wheelchair spaces), depending whether it is double sided/end, or single sided with one cab, and about 120 standing spaces.

    We have responded to the formal TTC notification and requested a meeting to discuss what might follow. As one of the two vendors that bothered to submit a bid, we believe that TTC should first explore with us how a streetcar order might be procured, before going back to the market. In the UK, public bodies chopping and changing bid processes, has led to vendor fatigue, and new contracts are rarely attracting more than one bidder, and so failing, under the EU public procurement rules.

    Given the well informed comments posted on your site by Torontonians, who are obviously regular transit users, we believe that they should be actively involved in the final choice of new streetcars. TTC had allocated $36million for 3 sample cars to be provided for a two year test period. We suggest that both original bidders be offered $18million each, and invited to supply sample streetcars for testing and passenger evaluation. TRAM Power would offer about 6 streetcars, possibly enough to operate most of one line ? If we were offered this in November on the original timetable, we would deliver the first sample car in May 2009 and all six by July 2008. TTC can then compare the performance and passenger satisfaction with the offerings.

    TRAM Power hopes that, like Bombardier, it will be invited to meet TTC to discuss this proposal and other options. In which case we will be meeting some of you in the near future, and will be happy to share information. In the meanwhile, the City Class can be seen operating on video clips on our website:
    Lewis Lesley
    Technical Director,
    TRAM Power Ltd.


  23. Why not have a demonstrator vehicle run over the system. that could quite possibly prove the worth or the drawbacks of the Flexity car. Heck, I’d just as soon see the TTC go back to the original plan to overhaul the CLRVs and the ALRVs. That way they could just worry about the Transit City cars first and legacy line replacements later.


  24. TTC Passenger wrote, “I don’t think the TTC can make any realistic projection about what the associated delay, if any, will be until they have that meeting…”

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that the selection in this bidding process was not going to be until the fall.

    Presumably, there will be some adjustment to the requirements done in short order and new bids can be submitted, hopefully including a few suppliers that did not submit under this bid. At this point in time, it is realistic that everything could be back on track (pun intended) for a fall selection.

    Steve: Here is the problem: Assuming that nobody has (or wishes to bid) a car that is compliant with the TTC specs, then they have to change the spec. Once they do that, all the potential bidders (especially those who dropped out because of the original spec) need time to prepare a bid, assuming they want to. Then the TTC has to evaluate them. This is not a four to six week process.


  25. One part of me thinks that a poor intern at Bombardier shuffled through the documents and accidentally placed a draft bid into the mail.

    Another part of me thinks that they’re in a conspiracy to railroad (streetcar?) a new half-baked technology to replace all the streetcars.

    Steve: As you may know by now from the weekend’s media reports, there is some disagreement from Bombardier about whether their bid is non-compliant, and the TTC has been backing off from some of its previous claims.


  26. “Dave R in the Beach – July 17,2008 @ 11:48 pm”

    ”’s time for the City and TTC to look inward for the answers.”

    Tend to agree (ditto on your other observations).

    Working for a company that has bid on TTC projects, and having worked on TTC projects when the company was the successful bidder this streetcar issue is deja-vu.

    Bidders drop out, bidders throw in high bids to send a message, and then there is the non-compliant bid issue. That one is a favourite with TTC.

    This Tender is even better with TRAM not being able to provide bonding, leaving only one bid.

    Bombardier, Siemens and Alstom seem to know how to make trains, LRT’s, streetcars, etc.

    I was in Geneva in March. I believe the Geneva trams are Bombardier. If I return, unlikely, I will check the radii on the tracks.


  27. There is 150 years old well providing services streetcars / trams/ public transport in old historical Praha City in Czech republic. Trams made previosly by Skoda Co., CKD Co. and now by Inecon Co. are now modern and well equiped. In Praha, very old city is sometimes more problems then in Toronto, but it works well there as well as in other cities in the world.

    Toronto citizens can try Seattle streetcars, Inecon production as well as in other USA cities. If there is a really problem in some parts of Toronto, there is also posibility to divide public transport with trolley-buses, Skoda manufactured, which are also operating succesfully in many cites many years.

    SKODA Co.and Inecon Co. was also between the bidders, but if I understood well, they did not send documents to TTC because they believed it is already for Bombardier prepared. Who know how it is in reality? The fact, that only Bombardierpresented offer at the end / there was about 27 Bidders / seems strange.


  28. Hi Steve:-

    I hope a potential downside to this whole dilemna is that double end is never considered for Toronto. Although it adds flexibility in some regards, it gives the streetcar system the same terminal problems that the subway has, turn around times that can’t be improved because of the nature of the geometry.

    Transit City should consider the benefit of loops. They have the bonus of costing less (when not in tunnels) and giving quicker turnaround times. Too the costs incurred in purchasing and maintaining two sets of controls and doors when only one set is really required for single end is a huge savings per car. (Go back in history and read some of the comments that the Scots managers of the privately owned Toronto Railway Company said about having two sets of controls on each car. No way Hamish!!!!!)

    Savings in track maintenance is also a big big advantage as extra track switches, frogs and diamonds, costly to buy, install and replace, when not there are pretty easy to maintain. When in place they can be a source of fairly high costs particularly when approaching their life limits and are always a source of noise pollution. Try too to keep them working in the heavy snow and ice conditions which of course we never get in July! True, loops can squeal, but the new greases that are in use seem to have this problem minimised. Lubricators and their maintenance are far less costly than track special work.

    Maybe in this day and age though I should be thinking quite differently and be supporting overbuild and not arguing for ways to establish long term savings for us! For with recession in employment in Ontario, we should be looking at these extra costs for the streetcar and TC systems, expense be damned! This could be a real boon to the re-establishment of heavy industry in Ontario and a swelling of maintenance staff ranks in the TTC.

    This brings me back to my old hobby horse of how the UTDC missed the boat for Ontario. Instead of creating industry in this province that would have provided maintenance and new build materials for conventional streetcar and suburban electric railway systems (ie., special trackwork and overhead parts), that those in the hunt for these products tried to suggest to them, they gave us the made in Ontario ICTS junk that no one in their right mind wanted or could fathom the insistance on its continued promotion.

    They also concentrated on vehicle only production in the conventional world of street railways and brought the world CLRVs, which were introduced too late and way under the hopes and dreams of transit professionals at other heritage street railway properties in the US of what they anticipated we Canadians were expected to deliver in the way of a desirable quality product. What a dissappointment to the industry and those of us in the know here could only hang our heads in shame! Boston and San Francisco both ordered Boeing Vertol (which had time to develop a car from scratch while UTDC dithered), but we got those CLRVs. At least they’re not buses and except for floor height, they’re marginally better than the bug-a-booed aircraft builder’s product!!! Again another example of UTDC mucking up our potential and finding very few more sales of the CLRV/ALRV product line other than to the captive Toronto market!! Lucky us, eh?!!!!

    Mind, with what I said in another post about learning from history, now’s the time to learn from this old news and start creating work for this province. Surely to goodness there are still people here who can run a foundry and process electrical and control components without us having to go offshore for something perceived to be better and less costly. We should not be merely carbody builders and component outsourcers. We have the power, according to David Suzuki! This should equate to mind power too in finding a well done made in Ontario solution, not heaven forbid more blithering, dithering UTDC!!!!

    Mr. D.


  29. There have been some questions on minimum radii in other cities, questions which I have been wondering myself as well. Last night I did a quick Google search and came across a document called Trackway Infrastructure Guidelines for Light Rail Circulator Systems.

    Page 3 in particular is relevant:

    a. Existing transit agencies with minimum center line track radius below 25 m. (82 ft.)

    Philadelphia – 10.8 m. (35.4 ft.)
    Toronto – 11 m. (36.1 ft.)
    Boston – 12.8 m. (42 ft.)
    San Francisco – 12.8 m. (42 ft.)
    Portland & Tacoma – car capability 18 meters (59 ft.)
    Newark – 19 m. (62 ft.)
    Melbourne – 16.8.m, (55 ft.)
    Sydney – 20 m. (65 ft.)

    b. Some existing low floor cars with minimum radius capability below 25 m (82 ft.)

    Brussels Bombardier Flexity – 14.5 m. (47.5 ft.)
    Boston Type 8 – 12.8 m. (42 ft.)
    Nordhausen Combino – 15 m. (49.2 ft.)
    Ansaldobreda “Sirio” – 15 m. (49.2 ft.)
    Portland Skoda “Astra” – 18 m. (59 ft.)
    Alstom Citadis – 18 m. (59 ft.)
    NJT Kinki Sharyo car – 18 m. (59 ft.)
    Melbourne – Combino and Citadis – 16.8 m. (55 ft.)

    From the above, it can be seen that there are a number of current vehicle designs that are suitable for Light Rail Circulator Systems in which the use of a smaller curve radius can be of benefit. Figure 1 shows a low floor car design that was proposed by a prospective bidder for one of the major US transit systems, and Figure 2 illustrates its ability to negotiate a worst case curve of 10.8 meters (35.4 feet).

    Unfortunately the images in the PDF are very low-resolution and it is difficult to read them, but it is interesting to see that small-radius designs have already been proposed in modern, low-floor LRVs. Presumably the “major US transit system” is Philadelphia, given that the 10.8-metre radius matches their requirement in the list above.

    (It would be nice if the first list included some European examples rather than being limited to North American and Australian systems.)


  30. Mr D said, “Transit City should consider the benefit of loops. They have the bonus of costing less (when not in tunnels) and giving quicker turnaround times.”

    Have you recently checked out the price of real estate? That is an unavoidable cost with loops.

    As for “turn around times that can’t be improved because of the nature of the geometry”, it will likely be quite some time before this becomes a issue with Transit City routes, but Melbourne has managed quite successfully to have turn around times less than a minute at Melbourne University where the stop has seven routes terminating there and two that pass through. The solution is multiple pocket tracks – see for more information.


  31. The problem with single end cars is that it means loops are mandatory. Double end cars mean loops where appropriate, crossovers where appropriate. Double side doors mean more maintenance, yes, but it also means island stops can be had rather than one each side.

    I don’t think the headway issue with non-loop termini is more how they are built and not the mode itself. Getting rid of the cultural issues which have four or five streetcars stopped in a loop will be more of a challenge than keeping ice off of crossover wiring – a problem we will have to solve for Transit City anyway.


  32. Steve wrote about re-opening the bidding process with updated specs, “This is not a four to six week process.”

    For sure it isn’t, but we are talking about a 16-18 week time frame. Four to six weeks is the delay, but I was pointing out that we were still nearly three months away from the old decision date. If adjusted specs were to be created within a couple of weeks, there is still plenty of time for this to work.

    Of course, being on the ball enough to come up with new specs in just a couple of weeks is a whole other issue, as is the ‘supplier fatigue’ effect that may see some potential suppliers not bothering.


  33. I dont think the TTC is even looking at double-ended cars, and another drawback of them is you lose seating on such a thing. I dont think the TTC is looking at double-ended cars to tell you the truth, at least not for the legacy system. Also did someone mention the infamous Boeing USSRLV? IIRC the doors on thie vehicle would not open, a third of them were not able to be used in the busiest station, and the wheels fell off from time to time. They make the Orion VI look like a bastion of reliability.

    Steve: The Boeing cars were a joke because, in the best tradition of government handouts, they were designed by people who didn’t know about rail vehicles. It was welfare for the defence industry (see also the subway cars for DC) following the winding down of the war in Viet Nam.

    Double ended cars lose seating space to stairwells in high floor cars, but not as much in low floor cars where it’s only the presence of two cabs that takes a bite out of the back end of the car. Such cars are in operation all over the world, and the Boeing cars should only be used as a point of comparison for any scheme to let an unproven supplier handle a big contract.


  34. Bob in North Toronto wrote: “Working for a company that has bid on TTC projects, and having worked on TTC projects when the company was the successful bidder this streetcar issue is deja-vu.

    Bidders drop out, bidders throw in high bids to send a message, and then there is the non-compliant bid issue. That one is a favourite with TTC. ”

    Prior to joining the TTC, I worked for several companies in the electronics/telecommunications industries. It was quite routine to “No Bid” TTC RFP’s, even though the company could supply the products due to the fact that TTC would start changing requirements after the contract was awarded. I also experienced the awarding of a contract by TTC whereby they actually came back to the company six months later and requested us to lower the contract price! TTC’s bid process is very difficult to navigate and actually results in many non-compliant bids for minor reasons. Day to day dealings with TTC’s M&P Department was an excercise in frustration.


  35. I didn’t like the CLRVs when they first appeared thirty years ago. As a summer student at the Ontario Hydro complex on Kipling, I sometimes took the Kipling South bus and the Long Branch streetcar home, so I got to ride CLRVs with the non-opening windows and utter lack of ventilation.

    Well, thirty years on, the CLRVs have stood up, in my opinion, remarkably well. Maybe because they were overbuilt for high-speed service, their bodies are doing quite a bit better than the PCCs in the late ’70s, when most were of a similar vintage to today’s CLRVs.

    The Great PCC Die-off happened around 1980-82 as I recall. I remember riding PCCs where the only available operating modes were either full power or full brake (and we were tossed out at Russel). Although CLRVs and ALRVs are starting to have poor heat in winter, they’re nothing like PCCs, even the rebuilt ones, where losing one’s toes to frostbite was a real threat if your ride was more than ten minutes. And the windows that often came down guillotine-like because the latches were getting dodgy….

    Like the PCC fleet being run down and sent to the scrap line at Wychwood, it seems that the TTC has stopped doing any sort of maintenance or upgrade to their present streetcars, beyond installing LED taillights. The front door centre post project hasn’t gone anywhere, and neither has the single seat project for the back part of the streetcars.

    Having been on ALRVs that were going 70km/h or more on the Queensway, it’s too bad that rebuilding them for fast Transit City lines is probably not reasonable. Making them high-floor loading for handicapped access suddenly requires that every stop be a high-platform one, and that’s right out.

    When the CLRVs and ALRVs are gone, there will be no more opportunities to ride with the window open and your arm out — ooh, sorry, Keep Arm In — on a warm summer night. Door operation will be much slower (although it seems that already a quarter or more of the ridership doesn’t understand “Stand on Step to Open Door”).

    The Flyer D901s with their huge sliding windows are still my favourite bus. You’re a lot more sealed-off from your surroundings in an Orion VII. Same will happen with the new streetcars it seems.


  36. “Gord @ July 21,2008 at 12:14 pm”

    Re: TTC Tenders

    It was interesting that TTC Tenders, and the Tendering Process before submitting the official Bid, were some of the most exciting and emotional Bids compared with non-TTC projects.

    Maybe because, in some way, we really did not want to get the job. As long as we were close.

    In one ore two bids the lead Estimator slipped in a minor qualification, just to make the Bid borderline “non-compliant”, and create some stress in the TTC M&P Department.


  37. @ Emily Green:

    So when are you running for Prime Minister? You’ve got my vote! (The CLRV’s still have my heart though 😉

    Steve: Only if we move the capital to Toronto and the official residence to Casa Loma, complete with a streetcar on Davenport and a funicular beside the Spadina steps.


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