Updated April 25, 9:30 am. I have added material from the media briefing and the staff report that I did not have time to incorporate in the original article. The additional material is appended below after the break.
On April 24, the TTC announced that Bombardier has won the competition for an order for 204 new low floor streetcars for Toronto. The staff recommendation will go to the Commission itself for approval on Monday, April 27.
Both Bombardier and Siemens bid on this tender, and the proposals from both vendors were considered to be compliant both on technical and financial grounds. Therefore the question came down to cost and with Siemens’ bid over 50% higher than Bombardier’s, there was no question about the winner.
The vehicles will be a modified version of the Flexity car with three powered two-axle trucks and five car sections. Bombardier has not yet updated their site with information about the vehicles (as of 2:00 pm EDT April 24). An illustration of the proposed car is in the Toronto Star’s article posted earlier today.
Although not guaranteed, this contract places Bombardier at the front of the line for supplying cars to the much larger Transit City system, especially if that builds out to anything near its full extent. The contract includes provision for add-on orders, but the TTC will be negotiating their price separately as the Transit City cars will have significant differences affecting their cost:
- Transit City will be built to specifications that allow off-the-shelf cars to operate on it — no tight curves or steep grades.
- The TC cars will be double-ended and double-sided.
- The TC cars will likely have only two powered trucks rather than three.
Subject to funding, a process still under negotiation with the Federal and Provincial governments, the first prototypes would arrive in Toronto in mid-to-late 2011 for non-revenue testing. Production deliveries would start in 2012 and stretch out to 2018 by which time the last of the existing CLRV and ALRV fleets would have been retired. A new carhouse, likely in the Port Lands, will be required to house this fleet while the older cars would run from Russell and Roncesvalles.
Postscript: I cannot help mentioning that the illustration of the new car shows a vehicle facing westbound on Queen at Bay signed “Neville”.
Updated April 25:
Bombardier has a website nominally showcasing the Toronto cars, but this is left over from a previous marketing campaign and does not show the Toronto design. However, there’s a nice photo gallery.
The total recommended $1.286-billion cost of the order for 204 LRVs comprises several items:
- The base price of $993-million (Canadian dollars, 2009) including all taxes.
- Escalation provision of $145-million based on a formula described in the staff report. In brief, this allows costs to rise at 85% of the rate of inflation as measured by various standard indices. The allowance here is priced on the assumption of a prevailing 3.5% per year over ten years.
- Foreign currency adjustment provision of $17-million. This will be a one-time adjustment based on prevailing currency rates at the date the contract is finalized. If the Canadian dollar appreciates in the interim, this will be to the TTC’s favour.
- Spare parts at $14-million.
- “Specified options” — add-ons to the cars requested for pricing by the TTC but not included in the base configuration — $67-million. These items were not listed, and we don’t know which of these might be included in the final version.
- Potential contract changes — $50-million. Nothing specific is proposed at this time, but this is a 5% provision relative to the base price.
There will be a $56.9-million offset to the total price due to the GST rebate payable to municipal agencies. This value may rise depending on the terms of the proposed harmonization of Ontario’s sales tax with the federal GST.
The question of per-car cost relative to industry norms came up a few times. Direct comparisons are tricky because of local conditions (special options, size of order), but the TTC stated that this contact fell in roughly in the 75th percentile of car costs. In other words, about 3/4 of the orders currently are lower while 1/4 are higher. This position will likely change for the Transit City fleet (see below) which is not a special configuration.
Compared with a “standard” Flexity model, the car has:
- A reconfigured front section with the single door relocated behind the truck
- The second and fourth sections have one double door each rather than two doors
These changes are triggered both by the car length and the truck placement necessary to provide proper dynamics. All trucks are powered to handle the grades on the Toronto system including situations where a disabled car needs to be pushed uphill (for example out of an underground station where the approach ramps are between 6% and 8% grades.
The cars will have 62 seats, comparable to an ALRV but spread over a longer vehicle. Specs for the existing and future fleets are:
- CLRV: 15.4m long, 130 crush load, 74 service design load
- ALRV: 22.3m long, 205 crush load, 108 service design load
- Flexity: 28.2m long, 260 crush load
I believe that TTC engineering is overstating the capacity of these cars by analogy to the ALRVs shown above. Note the difference in ratios between the design loads (used by Service Planning) and the crush loads (used by engineering to calculate the maximum axle load of the cars). My guess is that a service design load of 150 would be in the likely range given the car’s size. However, all door loading may, by improving passenger distribution, allow the TTC to achieve a higher design load without sacrificing rider comfort. We shall see once the cars are on the street.
In his remarks, Chair Adam Giambrone pointed out that with the expected demand on this fleet, the TTC would get back to the level of streetcar ridership seen in 1928. This is a bit of a stretch considering that the 1928 was much, much larger than the capacity of the Flexity “city” fleet. I suspect he has included some or all of the Transit City capacity and demand in that statement.
The TTC claims that they will not double the existing headways, but will take a balance between capacity, demand and the attractiveness of service. This will require close monitoring to ensure that the destruction of ridership seen on Queen thanks to headway widening and poor service management is not replicated system-wide.
The TTC does not have committed funding yet from Queen’s Park or Ottawa, but they are in active discussions with both levels of government regarding this. There will likely be an up front payment at contract signing (common in transit equipment orders, and the balance will be spread over the deliveries in 2011-2018. This means that the total subsidy from any government will stretch out through many budget years and election cycles.
Toronto and the TTC have made it clear to both governments that funding for this new car order is the “number one ask” for stimulus fund. However, projects that will receive Federal stimulus spending are supposed to be completed within two years, a requirement that challenges provincial and municipal governments across Canada for projects far less complex than an LRV purchase. Which envelope, if any, Ottawa uses to fund this project remains to be seen. Changing the rules for the stimulus program would open up complaints of special treatment for a large Toronto project, and it would push “stimulus” spending well beyond the fiscal periods when it is supposed to generate employment.
The bids are valid until June 27, 2009, and the contract will not be awarded without funding guarantees in place. This process often can be tedious as each government waits to see whether someone else will bring more money to the table, or what offsets might be available in other projects. The TTC needs to have a “Plan B” in place is some, but not all, of the funding is announced by June 27. This could involve placing a partial order with more to follow once the funding is worked out.
Funding is already in place for some of the Transit City fleet as well as for the small additions needed to operate the eastern waterfront services. This money and those projects cannot go anywhere without a base order of cars for the existing system.
The bid called for a minimum of 25% Canadian content, but the degree to which this might be exceeded was not included in the requirement. Therefore, we don’t know if the actual values are higher for either bidder.
The TTC plans to negotiate with Bombardier to study increasing the percentage. If this has a cost implication, the funding agencies will have to decide whether they want to pump more money into the order to increase the local benefits.
Delivery and Commissioning
The first three prototypes will arrive in mid to late 2011 (the date depends on who you talk to). This is roughly a year later than originally planned due to the delays in concluding the tender process.
The prototypes will be extensively tested in non-revenue operation, mainly at night, to ensure that they can operate on the Toronto track geometry. Production deliveries will begin in 2012 stretching to 2018. During that time, the CLRV and ALRV fleets would be gradually retired although, clearly, the rate of retirement can be adjusted to match the ongoing demand for streetcar service much as the PCC fleet backstopped the new CLRV fleet three decades ago.
The original rebuilding plan for the CLRVs would have included replacement of the electronics among other subsystems, but the cost of this work could not be recovered over a long enough time, given the need for the system to be accessible by 2021. Therefore, buying new cars is cost-effective. Under different circumstances, a mixed fleet might have lasted longer.
A few cars from the existing fleet will be retained for historical purposes, but I doubt they will engender the same warm, fuzzy feelings of the PCCs or Peter Witts. They will also be devilishly hard to maintain given that their control systems use expensive, hard-to-source technology once the cars reach “heritage” status.
A new carhouse is planned for the Port Lands on a site yet to be selected, and it will be connected to the existing system via Leslie Street from Queen. This fits in with the overall plan for eastern waterfront transit service, but does not make the new carhouse conditional on completion of the western access via Cherry and Queen’s Quay. The budget for the new carhouse is $345-million.
Roncesvalles and Russell will remain active for the CLRV and ALRV fleets. Modifying them to handle Flexity cars would improse a requirement to bring old buildings up to modern codes, and this would have to occur concurrently with day-to-day operations. The maintenance requirements for Flexities are completely different because of their low-floor configuration, and the longer cars would affect track layouts in some parts of the existing yards. The eventual fate of the old carhouses is unknown, although there is probably a case for building a yard on the Roncesvalles site to handle west end operations. Any decision on this is years away.
There is no specific plan yet for assiging new cars to existing routes. One could argue that they should go first to routes with exclusive rights-of-way like St. Clair, Spadina and Harbourfront, and mixed operation of new and old fleets could produce serious problems with uneven loading and inconsistent fare collection procedures. However, an argument can also be made for very busy routes like King where streetcar congestion is becoming a real problem and a barrier to running more service even if we have the cars.
The TTC and the City must also address transit priority issues on the mixed traffic routes. This issue has dragged on for years with little action. Ridership growth is hampered by poor and unreliable service, and part of that arises from missing or inconsistently applied “priority” signals on transit routes.
Implementation of the Flexity fleet requires the TTC to move fully to proof-of-payment for its streetcar system. Moreover, the option of paying a fare to the operator will vanish, and some substitute must be found.
At this point, the TTC seems to be hedging its bets on smart cards due to the high projected cost of implementing Presto! system-wide. One option mooted by Chief General Manager Gary Webster was to use fareboxes within the car that would issue receipts for tickets, tokens and cash. This sounds like a recipe for confusion, not to mention the inevitable mechanical problems and complaints this will generate from passengers who are unable to pay a fare.
The TTC will also have to get serious about roving fare inspections at all hours of service.
Transit City Fleet
Within a year, the TTC must place its first order for Transit City equipment in order that it will be available for start of service on Sheppard in 2012 and Finch a year later. The contract provides an option for additional cars, but these will be more or less “off the shelf” designs because Transit City will be engineered to match the capabilities and constraints of industry-standard vehicles. They will likely have only two of three trucks powered, and will not be required to handle tight curves like the “legacy” network’s fleet.
The Waterfront West line, should it ever be built, will not be able to use Transit City cars because it will operate over a great deal of existing trackage.
The TTC will negotiate with Bombardier for a price on such cars, but if they cannot secure acceptable terms, then the order could go to tender. Whether anyone else will bid is another question, but that’s the plan.
Intriguingly, everyone at the media briefing spoke of Eglinton as part of the Transit City LRT network and it is clear that the TTC expects to build it that way, not as a so-called extension of the Scarborough RT. At this point, nothing has been announced on either the Eglinton or “RT” line’s technology.
Any idea why there exists such a large price gap between Bombardier & Siemens?
Steve: No. they bid what they bid.
I under the impression this order only replaces the CLRVs and does not cover replacing the ALRVs.
Steve: No, it replaces everything. 204 new cars with a capacity roughly double that of a CLRV. This gives effectively 408 CLRV equivalents. By comparison, we currently have the original 196 CLRVs, less one scrapped, plus 52 ALRVs, say 78 CLRV equivalents, for a total of 273 CLRVs. Even allowing for some overstatement of the new cars’ capacity, there is still a lot of headroom.
Note that additional cars for the waterfront lines are funded separately through those projects and would be add-ons to this order. TTC is already muttering about extending this batch, but that’s a decision for about 2015, not today.
I am extremely concerned about this development in too many ways to detail, although by now you’re well familiar with my positions. To comment on the specific new points above, it is very unfortunate that the TC cars will not be at all capable of operating over the majority of curves in the legacy system, no matter why that might be needed or advantageous. The TTC should also know better from past experience with the ALRVs and everywhere else un-powered centre-trucks have been tried that leaving this out of the TC cars could prove extremely problematic, especially considering the length and multi-segment nature of the planned design.
The dramatic difference in the bid values suggests that Bombardier under-bid knowing full well that we’ll end up eating the actual final costs including major design alterations when the prototype doesn’t work out. Unless we put strong legal provisions into the contract, we’re gonna get screwed royally. I’ll attempt to refrain from making unfounded allegations, but I’ve learned to hold my nose around Bombardier and I hope that the folks at the TTC aren’t collectively holding their noses just because the price looks so much better at face value. Neither proposed vehicle was technically appropriate for the legacy system, even with major modifications. I foresee another 30 years of griping just like the past 30 years.
“They will feature … a computerized fare system to accommodate the new fare technology the TTC is likely to introduce in coming years.”
Question for you Steve … do [you] think TTC are seriously considering introducing any new fare technology other than the Presto card?
Steve: It’s uncertain, and they were a bit vague on the subject at the media briefing today. I will write about this in greater detail when I update the post later in the evening.
I wonder when traffic and TTC authorities will realise that silver is the least visible colour on the road and, therefore, the most dangerous. Contributing to safety, rather than taking from from it, would be a good donation by the TTC to Toronto’s public.
OTOH, the white colour and the red line at the bottom of the Siemens cars makes them more visible, less dangerous, and, I suspect, are the reason that these cars are easier on the eye.
The Bombardier cars frown downward, whereas the Siemens cars look up. It’s a small thing, perhaps, but these cars will be representing our city, not just the TTC. Do we want to be known as a city that is constantly frowning?
Perhaps the TTC or Bombardier could hire some designers before the final cars are assembled. After all, the TTC seems to have saved about 50% of the cost, so there should be enough in the pot for a designer or two, for a single project to clean up the appearance of these cars. Currently, they’re just grey boxes with the edges rounded off, and a line of red added just because that’s the TTC’s colour. It’s one thing to have steak, but, since the cars will willingly or unwillingly represent our city, we really do need a little sizzle, too. The TTC’s bureaucratic approach to its part of our city is so frequently disheartening.
Is it too soon to know what has changed on Bombardier’s end since last year’s rejected bid? The main obstacle then, as I recall, was the TTC saying that Bombardier’s vehicles wouldn’t stay on the tight curves on the streets here, but Bombardier had denied that was the case. Also curious as to why Siemen’s bid was so much higher – would that have had to do with what they would need to do in order to facilitate the 25% local production caveat?
Steve: We don’t know the details of what Bombardier has changed, but I do know that the TTC is now happy with their design. TTC staff were quite firm in stating that their spec for Toronto cars has not changed, but the vendors’ have. As for the difference in the cost, no, that was not explained, and in reality the TTC would not have that info. Bidder “A” quotes one price, and bidder “B” quotes another. How they arrived at it is a bit of a mystery. Even where spare parts are quoted, there’s no way of knowing how they came up with the individual prices. When you go to Loblaws, they don’t post a sign explaining the price of eggs. All media queries along this line were directed to the bidders who would have to decide just how much info they want to release on how they priced their bids.
The sign is obviously driver error. Someone should remind him to change it. ;-}
And one note about that computer-rendered illustration – With less doorway space than an ALRV this longer car will have serious problems with passenger congestion even with a POP system in place.
Regarding the illustration: note also that the building east of Yonge Street, at the left of the image, is actually the Bay building / Simpsons Tower, copied and pasted. The streetcar seems to be caught in an infinite loop.
Steve: Now we know why they’re always late … there is a time warp at Yonge Street … sort of a Bermuda Triangle for streetcars!
Thank you for the postscript comment, I had a laugh.
By double sided, do you mean that people will be getting on/off from both sides? (a la SRT). How is that even possible. Have you ever seen the 501 Queen (or any other current streetcar) when you are on it, then another one comes heading the other directions. there is barely any room.
Steve: Only the Transit City cars are double sided, and they have to be, just like subway cars, because there won’t be any loops. You don’t have to open the doors on both sides, and the SRT only does that at Kennedy where the platform was redesigned to permit that.
I think it was Siemens who said they could build them cheaper in China, I like the idea of 25% Canadian element. I know Bombardier will build them in Thunder Bay, just out of curiosity: how would getting our streetcars from China be cheaper? you would have to ship them via cargo ship to Vancouver then bring them over via rail (or a HUGE truck) to Toronto. I am just curious about that factor.
Steve: It was subway cars that Siemens said they could build cheaper. The advantage of doing the work overseas is that raw materials (steel) are cheaper in China, and labour is a lot cheaper.
I see the Bombardier option (star image) that I won’t be able to go to the front like I can go with the current streetcars. I like the fact that I can go all the way to the front on the subways, I like the fact that I can be in the front area of the buses & streetcars, it could be the child in me or it could be that I am just insane (the jury is still out). I don’t like the Scarborough RT when the driver closes that door and I can’t look out the front window.
Again, I am laughing at the postscript comment you mentioned.
One thing I’m curious about: how different is this design from the one Bombardier proposed, and the TTC rejected, in phase one? Do those technical changes seem to have driven up the costs?
Steve writes: I cannot help mentioning that the illustration of the new car shows a vehicle facing westbound on Queen at Bay signed “Neville”.
Ah, yes. The operator simply forgot to change the sign back at the loop. I’m sure a helpful passenger would have mentioned it long before Bay St., but how to do that when the operator is sitting in a locked cab?
Hooray! As a streetcar driver, I’m looking forward to maybe driving one. By the way, I forget to change my sign all the time, lol! I did notice that mistake in their illustration too.
Hmmm… the interior shots being shown in a couple of places have really narrow walkways between the rows of seats. I realize Bombardier can design any number of interior configurations, so I hope we don’t have a repeat of our latest, crappy, cramped buses.
Steve: Remember that these cars use all door loading and work more like subway cars with vestibules and surrounding seats. The ability to walk through the car is not as greatly needed as on a pay as you enter car. The narrowest part is the aisle through the middle of the truck. This layout is not finalized.
I’m wondering if the TTC plans on ordering more cars after this initial purchase. They are replacing 248 cars with 204… Won’t that affect service?
Steve: See previous reply regarding the relative capacity of the two fleets.
Congrualations Bombardier on the win. 2013 will be a great year for them. The CSeries flight will take its first flight and the new Toronto trams will take to the road.
Why would TC cars only need two powered trucks and not three?
Steve: They won’t have to handle 8 percent grades, possibly pushing a dead car ahead of them.
I’m amazed at the ignorance of the people posting comments on the Star’s article.
Many suggesting that Bombardier is somehow hosing the TTC and taxpayer. They closed the comments before I could post anything pithy and obvious about costs and benefits. I guess that’s why I read my transit news here. The comments are much more entertaining, and thought through.
I am really dissapointed in a way that Bombardier won the contract but i understand the reasons. I’m dissapointed because i think this will discourage future suppliers to bid for a TTC contract. I understand they why they were chosen since: a) the economic times, b) Bombardier a canadian company, c) Because of the choice it may be easier to get money from at leat Queens Park (I dont think the federals could care less about who they chose). I hope that when the TTC picks their transit city vehicles, they will consider other companies but I think Bombardier will also get that contract because its easier to operate 1 fleet type than 2. But I also think transit city is in its own class (LRT rather than traditional streetcar) so I think its better if they pick a different streetcar that can travel at greater speeds (Bombardier’s proposal only runs at 70km/h while Siemens at 80km/h).
Steve: For city operation, 70 km/h is all we need. The real question is acceleration in stop and go traffic. As for the choice of Bombardier, I would say a difference of over half a billion dollars in the bids makes a big difference too!
I noticed the “Neville Park” signage as well but rationalized it as not meant to be literally Yonge/Queen as 1 Queen East, the building in the background, is wrong as well.
Once the older LRVs are completely retired, will the new ones then also be moved to the Roncesvalles and Russell yards? Will it be binary switch-over (“flag day”), or will there be a mix of old and new at the various yards?
Steve: I expect the existing yards will be retired, or one may be retained but completely reconfigured. The buildings and track layouts at present will not handle the new cars.
Trevor wrote: “The Bombardier cars frown downward, whereas the Siemens cars look up. It’s a small thing, perhaps, but these cars will be representing our city, not just the TTC. Do we want to be known as a city that is constantly frowning?
Perhaps the TTC or Bombardier could hire some designers before the final cars are assembled.”
Others in the blogosphere have been saying similar. Today on twitter, Matthew Blackett proposed a public contest for color schemes and final look. As I remarked back at him, as long as it doesn’t turn into a “Name the new streetcar” contest, like what the zoo does whenever there’s a baby gorilla, I’m all for it. While all the various vehicles – subways excluded – maintain a similar color spectrum, it seems to me that in spite of the variances of window and trim locations, there could be more consistency in the size and locations of stripes and such. While it’s not a detail to get too bogged down in, they DO have to paint the things somehow.
As Trevor notes, streetcars already have a significant place as a mascot of Toronto – they may as well be appealing as well as useful. (The cynic in me realizes it’s a moot point once they apply an advertising wrap and create a massive bendy Oh Henry bar. Although… revisiting the ROM Snake ad campaign from the 80s with vehicles that bend in multiple locations like an actual snake kinda intrigues me…)
I was just by Roncesvalles Carhouse today and they are currently doing trackwork to rebuild and double-end the stub sidings on the east side of the yard that had previously been used as dead-storage. This should help immensely in easing congestion in the yard. The approach track off Roncesvalles Avenue will connect directly into the ladder for these sidings as well as the current through-track.
The closure of the through-track and the Roncesvalles entrance track caused a ridiculous problem today. An disabled eastbound ALRV on The Queensway was being pushed back to the yard. However with no way to enter the yard from this direction the monster pair was sent crawling all the way up through Dundas West Station and back before turning back onto The Queensway and into the yard. This caused quite the traffic backlog, although it had no effect on the PM rush King service because as usual the King cars were so late they were either turning at Roncesvalles or were simply absent. The car I finally got northbound at 6:15 was 25 minutes down. Something has to be done about the westbound traffic backlog on King approaching that intersection. This is one place where traffic congestion really is a legitimate excuse. There’s always six or more streetcars in sight and barely moving at that time of day.
I notice the new design seems to retain the trolley poles. These cars seem a bit long for the operator to run back to rewire them.
Steve: Yes, trolley poles, albeit with longer shoes to get more contact and hence greater power draw from the overhead. Rebuilding the entire system for pantographs is simply not going to happen in the short term.
Regarding the comment above about the colour. I agree that silver is bland to say the least but surely in choosing the Bombardier cars the TTC is commiting itself to any particular colour scheme.
The comparisons always seem to be with the CLRV’s. How long will these cars be compared to the ALRV’s and how will their capacity compare?
Steve: From the media briefing: CLRV 15.4m, 130 crush capacity; ALRV 22.3m, 205 crush capacity; New Car 28.2m, 260 crush capacity.
Do they have technical data and drawings available? I found technical information on the Flexity Berlin version, but it is 2.4 m wide compared with 2.540 m for the CLRV and ALRV. I would assume the Flexity Toronto version would have a similar width comparable with the CLRV.
The Flexity Berlin comes in two lengths: 30,800 mm / 40,000 mm, according to the information on Bombardier’s web site.
Steve: I am still waiting for Bombardier to get off their butts and put up something on their site. One would expect for an order this important that they would have a page ready to go, but the only thing on their site is the announcement of the new subway car order.
Note that the Toronto car is a different length, 28.2m, than either of the Berlin models. It has been tailored specifically for our track geometry.
By using an off the shelf car that is already in production with a little customization, (nothing new here, the PCC cars were different in each city). There are a couple of things.
1) How custom are the cars, I mean if the city needs 5 cars in 25 years, and Kōln, Germany is selling off their remaining cars cheap, will such a car be modifiable for TTC use without spending a fortune on modifications.
Steve: Second hand cars are more likely to fit in the Transit City network than on the “legacy” network due to the demands of curves and grades. Whether we would want to buy such equipment for brand new lines is quite another matter.
2) Will a Transit City car be modifiable to a Street Car car for a reasonable cost. Collisions are more likely with Street Cars then LRT’s so being able to convert a car from TC to SC will be handy in the future.
Steve: No. Same reasons as (1) above. The TC cars will be “standard” designs, and we already know that none of these will work on the old routes.
3) Will the new cars be wheelchair accessible?
Steve: Yes, provided that the stop has an island or a “bulb out” from the sidewalk for level loading. For other locations, the second door of the car will be equipped with a ramp (if you look closely in the drawing you can see a wheelchair logo by that door).
4) Will they convert by route, or will you find runs 1,3,6,7 are new cars and 2,4,5,8 are *LRVs.
Steve: That’s still under discussion. For political reasons, various routes are in the “pick me first” category, with St. Clair and the new waterfront lines being prime candidates. However, Service Planning has to work out what the overall system needs will look like starting in 2012 as the new cars come onto the property. There’s a strong argument for putting them on routes with extremely frequent service such as Spadina and King.
I think one reason why Bombardier won was because Siemens would have to build a whole new facility, while Bombardier already has one ready to go in Thunder Bay. So not only would it cost more because we would have to build a whole new factory, but it may take longer for delivery because of this.
Hopefully these new streetcars could speed up the Queen and King routes
We were looking at the rendering at work and were commenting that at least they managed to keep the two green lights over the destination sign, though it looks like they’re not turned on.
The large centre light was a feature that should have been incorporated into the design. Together with the green lights it helps pick out the streetcars from all the other traffic down the road when waiting at the stop. We figured the lower profile of the streetcar meant that a centre light would be poorly placed and so was eliminated.
The positioning of the route number below the destination seemed a little odd. It looks more like the run number than the route number. If they’re going to be using an LED sign perhaps it could scroll between the route name and destination or use the same format as the buses.
Finally, in the absence of island platforms for boarding, how do wheelchairs get on board? It looks like the floor is a few inches higher than the road.
Steve: I think that the route display is that way for the purpose of the sketch. On a real vehicle, you can work through exposures such as “501 Queen / To Neville Park / Have A Great Day / Go [insert name of losing team here] Go”. This is hard to do in a “still” rendering. One particular hope I have is that, like the bus displays, we will get route names back on the streetcars.
I explained in an earlier comment about the wheelchair access at the second of the four doorways.
Yes, but with reduced headways and longer waits. Why couldn’t they have given us 408 streetcars at half the size with couplers for the busy routes?
When these things finally do show up and everyone complains about 15 minute waits on Bathurst 511 at night, I’ll be here to shove socks down their throats. Yes, these streetcars are nice, but are they practical? We all know one double-length streetcar will run half as often as two regular length ones.
And, with the driver sectioned off like that, how are passengers supposed to ask for directions?
Steve: The TTC claims that it will not be doing a straight 2-for-1 replacement and will take into account the need to maintain an acceptable service frequency. That will probably last until the next major budget crisis under a right-wing administration.
A National Post article explains what Bombardier changed in the new design:
Congratulations Toronto on finally making the order, whilst I still have my reservations about 100% [low floor] cars and their rigid trucks, I will be happy to be proved wrong if they get them to work, here in Melbourne (with more generous curves than the TTC) even the union have demanded that on the next order of cars, they have rotating trucks (thereby becoming 70% cars).
Couple of points though, I hope that the TTC, even though replacing all cars, keep a number of either the CLRV’s or ALRV’s (the most obvious choice) as back ups for emergencies or surprise growth, Melbourne was flat out retiring it’s Z1 series when they realise that the patronage had soared and there was a huge shortage of cars, to the point that some retired cars were returned to service and two cars set aside for the historic fleet were returned to service and had driver’s A/C put in. This would be a simple procedure if they plan on keeping one of the present car houses along with the new one.
Lastly, it was mentioned about the single headlight, I agree, this one item of “Iconocism” would have been great, they even did that in Bordaux with a brand new LRT system, the last tram having run in the 50’s. It would certainly stand out as a streetcar from a distance, if the headlight is a bit low, it could be a “be seen” light of low intensity and a roof mounted driving light for driver’s illumination. At any rate, the illistration is just that, a drawing, I am sure, the end result will look substantially different by the time it hits the road, remember what the drawings for the CLRV were like before they were built, one had the front like a Boeing car!!
Greg back in Melbourne.
Steve: The transition between the CLRV/ALRV fleet and the new cars will take about 6 years. That’s plenty of time for the TTC to realize that it might need a few of the older cars longer than planned to handle growth in demand. Also, they plan to keep a few for historical reasons, although I will have a hard time feeling any nostalgia for them.
A few things:
I agree the Bombardier car is uglier, but there’s not much you can do about that sadly.
Also, suggestions that 70kph is not fast enough. AFAIK, the subway only runs at 65kph, and the SRT, fastest of all, at 80kph. 70kph seems fast enough for me to be honest, but as Steve said, acceleration is very important. Hopefully we will get good vehicles and not lemons.
Steve: The subway is quite capable of 80 km/h, although I think that the new “Toronto Rockets” will top out a bit below that.
What are we actually looking at, in the real world?
Here are some examples from Bombardier’s website:
This beauty runs in Spain.
This guy runs in Italy.
This one is from Poland.
This from Germany.
This is some information from cars in Portugal.
Steve: Note the common difference to Toronto’s model — the absence of the door immediately behind the operator’s cab — triggered by the shortened front end of the car.
To those who think that the total price of $1,286,108,166 or $6,304,451.79 each is too much, compared with a slightly used PCC in the 1950’s at $17,500 USD, consider this.
My father, in the 1950’s, bought a semi-detached house on Sunnyside Avenue, near the Roncesvalles carbarns, for around $25,000. It had an unfinished basement, wire and knob 60-amp electrical, a converted from coal to oil boiler, wringer washer, no air-conditioning, a single claw-footed bathtub in a single bathroom, second floor kitchen, and single-pane windows (my father had to put up the winter windows).
I recently saw that the same house sold for under $700,000 recently. The listing said it had air-conditioning, finished basement, and new kitchen with stainless steel appliances.
So I think that the new streetcars will be a good buy.
Steve: First, I corrected the arithmetic above as the original value shown was $600K, not $6M. The used PCCs would not have included spare parts, warranty and training, and the price per car without these and a few other items not applicable to those PCCs is $4,867,687.09.
The ratio between the used PCC and the base price of the new Bombardier car is 278:1, taking the US dollar at par (fairly likely when we bought the PCCs). The ratio in the house prices is 28:1. That’s an order of magnitude difference in the ratios. If we allow for the greater capacity (a factor of 2), the longer expected lifespan of a new car (at least a factor of 2, probably more including potential for rebuilding), improved creature comforts (AC, heating that works all of the time), we are still not likely to get as good a ratio for the streetcars as for the houses.
I am not sure what the PCC equivalent of a claw-foot bathtub might be.
I may actually agree with Mimmo on something – that assuredly, the longer vehicles will have to result in longer headways. I ride the 504 to Dundas West every day, and as it is, even with separate tracks and platforms for the 505 and 504, often there is a queue out on Dundas St just to get into the station. They run the odd ALRV in rush hours, which further clogs up the line. I haven’t paced it off, but I would be surprised if even 2 of the new cars can fit at a time on the 504 platform – any idea on how many can fit at Dundas West, and for that matter, are there other terminals on the various existing lines that will have issues with accomodating cars? (The Spadina line comes to mind.) The reconstructions of the Dundas West and Broadview termini were done fairly recently, hopefully this was considered.
Steve: This is a major problem. The platforms at Broadview, for example, can just hold three CLRVs or one CLRV plus an ALRV. This means that a single Flexity will take up the entire platform. When this is coupled with the TTC’s penchant for padding schedules with terminal recovery times, this produces queues at Broadview just like the ones you see at Dundas West. The TTC needs to rethink its operations given that the existing terminals cannot act as storage yards for cars waiting out their layovers.
I am assuming that these new cars , with their increased length, will not pose any problems for exsiting track layouts at Dundas West, Bathurst, etc.
Steve: See previous comment. I expect to see problems at Dundas West, Broadview and Spadina, and possibly Queen’s Quay Station. A full review of system constraints and operating strategies is needed.
Steve–you mentioned Waterfront West as requiring ‘City’ network cars, but what about Waterfront East? Presumably it will be using only new-spec trackage.
Steve: I only mentioned the western side because the eastern legs are part of Waterfront Toronto’s projects, not Transit City. The east side will also use “city” cars because they have to run on the city network including teh Bay Street tunnel (steep grades and tight curves) as well as possible through routing onto existing routes such as a service to Broadview Station via Cherry and King.
At present the TTC is only running 185 streetcars at peak (per the current Service Summary). While running 185/204 is probably expecting a lot out of the new fleet and TTC habits, we simply must stop using 257 as a baseline when comparing when the true available fleet number is probably near 210.
The design – this was one of the reasons I was disappointed to see Alstom drop out and why I hope they will have a shot at some TC business. The Citadis folks seem to value individuality and have come up with some interesting designs for various cities such as Lyon. That said, the new 43m ones being delivered in Dublin have a rather ugly front end.
Incidentally, I posed a question on a board in Ireland as to what the Citadis is costing. Apparently the latest order for 26 43m trams is 2.8m Euro apiece which is equivalent to the tender vehicle cost of the Flexitys, but the network in Dublin is virtually new standard gauge/double end/panto and requires no vehicle customisations on the scale being proposed for Toronto and is coming from the existing La Rochelle production line.
A full review? I certainly hope so. It is very common to see three, sometimes four CLRVs (and I have pics to prove it) parked at St. Clair station, even after the evening rush hour. I don’t see how the station as currently configured can hold more than one of the new ones.
What is the reasoning behind the “Canadian content” requirement? When did the TTC become responsible for Thunder Bay’s economy?
Funny that Bombardier is quick to leverage their Canadian origins when begging for government bailouts, but they need to be contractually obliged to build at least 25% in Canada.
Steve: The funding is coming from senior levels of government, not just from the City of Torotno. That’s why “we” are responsible for Thunder Bay’s economy. “We” includes the provincial and federal governments and their taxpayers. One might equally ask why the folks in Thunder Bay should support the ailing auto sector in southern Ontario.