Bombardier Recommended for Low Floor Streetcar Order (Updated)

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.

Canadian Content

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.

Fare Collection

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.

95 thoughts on “Bombardier Recommended for Low Floor Streetcar Order (Updated)

  1. With regards to cross-compatibility between SC and TC, every question has been answered except that of gauge.

    The TC cars are “off the shelf” does that mean that they will be built to standard-gauge (non-TTC) configuration?

    Steve: At this point, I don’t know but will ask.

    Also, re: Layovers.

    St. Clair and Bathurst stations have particularly lengthy platforms, I believe Dundas West has sufficient space to allow for a modification (if one could imagine removing parking spaces in favour of transit).

    Certainly your neighborhood around Broadview will explode at the thought of modifications to that station (after taking six decades to complete this most-recent route separation).

    Steve: Broadview is especially tricky because unlike Dundas West, the platform is on a diagonal alignment in the site. Extending it further east is very messy.

    Now there is an actual positive aspect to the current arrangement across the University and Yonge stations where streetcars merely stop above without having platforms.

    Re: St. Clair West.

    I was originally under the impression that the loops (Robina, Earlscourt, Townsley) would be removed. (Townsley is removed) however it seems that they are being kept as well, do these larger vehicles have any problems negotiating loops? I would hope this aspect was part of the “model” used to test on.

    Steve: Yes, Earlscourt and Oakwood Loops remain in the system, and yes all of the curves are part of the test. Townsley is coming out only because it is so close to Keele/Gunn’s Loop and is not used for any scheduled streetcar turnbacks.


  2. Every subway station that has a streetcar loop needs to have the loop be as long Main Street Station’s. That’s a real subway station streetcar loop.


  3. Perhaps it would be wise to finally have the Bathurst car run to St. Clair West Station, with its larger platform area which could probably accomodate the Flexities, rather than have it stop at Bathurst Station.

    I could see this being much more useful for riders, who wouldn’t have to transfer to a bus to go further north, or could save a subway transfer to get to/from the Spadina line. It could even relieve some transfer pressure at St. George. Heck, the trackage already exists, doesn’t it? I know there’s major construction on Bathurst/Dupont right now, but why isn’t this already part of that car’s operation?

    Steve: The big problem is that the demand pattern on Bathurst does not support your model. There is no point in having an artificial break at St. Clair in the bus service once the street is all put back together. The real break in demand occurs at Bloor. Also, Bathurst Station actually has more room for new cars on its own. At St. Clair West, it will be impossible to maintain the separate eastbound and westbound loading zones because the equivalent of four CLRVs won’t fit on that track.


  4. One wonders something, how much of the legacy network can be converted to fit standard cars? Is this something that the TTC and city plans on working on over the next 30 years or so. For example will new cars be able to run on St Clair, where we just spent a fortune rebuilding the line. Although with St Clair the loop at St Clair station is very tight.

    Steve: The problem is intersection geometry. Where two four-lane streets meet at 90 degrees, there is only so much room to fit a right-hand curve, and the system is full of such locations. There are other specific cases, but the intersections are the major problem and quite numerous. There is also the problem of grades on all of the ramps into underground stations as well on Bathurst Street north of Davenport.


  5. Steve wrote: “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.”

    Hopefully the switch from 248 cars to 204 will encourage the TTC to enact some sort of drop back crewing. I would much rather see an operator sitting in Dundas West for 15 minutes than a new 6 million dollar streetcar. (along with its operator)


  6. I’m wondering if the TTC should switch sides at Bathurst Station, put streetcars on the east side and buses on the west? The only problem with that arrangement is entering Bathurst Street on the south end. However, that could be solved by using traffic lights controlled by the presence of a streetcar, in sync with the southbound traffic at Bloor.

    Then the longer Bombardier cars could be accommodated with passing tracks if needed.


  7. The question of gauge still comes up. Aren’t most of the legacy streetcar systems in North America something other than standard gauge? I’m sure that both Pennsylvania systems are even wider than TTC. (The only reference work I have gets TTC gauge wrong, so I can’t trust it.)

    Is gauging the wheels really that difficult? Rockwood seems to have done it to a number of cars and even TTC regauged the largest used PCC fleet in the world.

    Steve: This is a corrected answer with thanks to John Bromley.

    Pittsburgh and Philly are both “Pennsylvania Broad Gauge”, but they are not identical. Pittsburgh is 5′ 2 1/2″, but Philly is 5′ 2 1/4″. All other “legacy” system are standard gauge.

    When the TTC acquired second hand PCCs, they were all standard gauge which is close to TTC gauge and changing them was fairly simple. However, with the concerns about truck dynamics on the original Bombardier proposal, even a small change could have affected the calculated behaviour, and the trucks themselves might not have been designed with regauging in mind.


  8. I have never liked replacing 248 vehicles with 204 (that’s a ratio of 6 existing vehicles for 5 new ones.) I have never understood how the TTC could even think that they could match current headways with less vehicles. Then again, hopefully (as Steve have pointed out) they realize this once the new vehicles start showing up and decide to keep some CLRVs and ALRVs around.

    It’s nice that the new cars will carry a lot more people then a CLRV, however if people have to wait too long for a new streetcar to appear then there will ne no need for the extra space.


  9. On schedule padding due to platform length:

    Perhaps it’s time the TTC moved away from the same type of scheduling used in Milton and move to the same type of scheduling used in New York City.

    While the internal workings are largely the same, in Milton you find a list of the exact minute your bus shows up at a certain stop. In New York City, the entire route gets a single number, a headway number, for any period of the day. Therefore rather then getting angry that your streetcar showed up at 5:49 and not 5:45, you only come to know that cars run “at 10 minute intervals” This would eliminate much of the need to hold cars in locations for no reasons. If you need to hold the operator, just hold the operator – do some drop back service.


  10. Hi Steve,

    Did the TTC consider ordering two types of cars from the same manufacturer: cars with smaller capacity for lower-demand routes like Bathurst and Dundas, and high-capacity 28 m cars for Queen, King, and Spadina?

    Same total capacity spread over larger number of vehicles would facilitate the headway management, and perhaps alleviate the shortage of platform length at some termini.

    Steve: No.


  11. You mention potential length constraints at Queens Quay Station. What IS the platform length there? Was the station built with a contingency for the eventuality of longer vehicles?

    Steve: The problem will arise if the TTC tries to run two-car trains on any of the waterfront services. A single car fits, but not two. I do not believe that there is any contingency as you can see from the alignment change almost immediately north of the station.

    Also, what do foresee happening re queuing at Spadina Stn? Will a 510 wait in the tunnel while one sits on the platform?

    Steve: It is possible to make more platform space, but I can’t see two cars on the platform at once unless they position with a loading car partly beyond the platform (remember that the first door is well back of the front of the car). Still, it will be tight.


  12. I’d like to reiterate something already addressed by Mark Dowling, who correctly pointed out that we have 185 vehicles actually in revenue-service on the rails of our streetcar network at peak. Yet we have 248 to work with. What are the other 63 vehicles doing?

    The reality is that the CLRVs are already 30 years old, and the ALRVs are 25 years old, and the fleet has a spare ratio of 33%! This is hideous. 63 is actually 25% of the fleet, so one can conclude that some of the vehicles are running in less-than-acceptable condition in revenue-service at peak periods. I’ve noticed buses starting to stand in for streetcars on both the 501 and the 505, because there are not enough streetcars to service the lines due to vehicles breaking down. I saw one ALRV last week sitting at Richmond and Yonge, with a heavy truck of the TTC’s right behind it there to respond to whatever the problem was (I noticed it had dropped tons of sand). These things break down, and as I understand it, they break down quite regularly.

    The new fleet will have a spare ratio of around 10%. 185 x 0.1 = 19, and 19 + 185 = 204. Magic!

    204 does work, sort of (new lines aren’t accounted for, and we still have a shortfall with St.Clair, but otherwise). Having 248 vehicles in the current fleet doesn’t do us any good when that fleet is decrepit.


  13. Steve writes:

    “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.”

    As _TTC ’28_ was written to illustrate the most extensive operations of the traction fleet, should we be looking forward to _TTC ’18_ from John Bromley? (_TTC 2028_ seems a little too far away.)


    “Steve: The problem is intersection geometry. Where two four-lane streets meet at 90 degrees, there is only so much room to fit a right-hand curve, and the system is full of such locations.”

    In Buenos Aires I saw track that, to turn left, first went off to the right to get enough of a radius. Away from the ceremonial-style streets, Buenos Aires’ barrio streets are about the width of an inner-Toronto residential street.

    Steve: That may be, but we would still have to completely rebuilt the intersections to handle that geometry. It ain’t going to happen.


  14. regarding the current condition of our CLRVs and SLRVs: just ask any operator. Or eavesdrop on a conversation between two operators when one takes over from the last. So many of these things break down so often.


  15. You forgot one other US part legacy, part new system of New Orleans which uses 5’2 1/2″ gauge.

    I was having a close look at the artist’s rendition of the new cars again with respect to the door position and something someone else mentioned (I think you Steve) that no drawings have been forth coming. If you look closely at the windows over the front truck, the bottom of the window does not come all the way to the bottom of the black area (like the rear windows of the low floor buses only this bit is much less) this. Coupled with the door location and the lack of drawing makes me wonder if they are indeed going for a rotating truck at the ends and the 100% actually means all entrances. I hope this is correct as it would be much better for Toronto than trying to get rigid trucks around 11 metre radius curves. I know that area is very small (the depth of the area between the window and the bottom of the line) but most new cars that are 70% have only a very small step over the truck, especially the Bombardier cars we have in Adelaide.



  16. Steve says:

    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.

    TTC Passenger says:

    Two out of three trucks powered has me a bit concerned with respect to the implications it would have for acceleration and braking rates (keep in mind, dynamic braking’s not available on unpowered axles). This won’t be a huge issue of the Transit City lines have widely spaced stops but if they’re tightly spaced, the impact on schedules and average speed could become significant. These were the factors that led London Underground to decide to have all the axles in the 92 stock and later tube trains motorized.

    Steve says:

    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.

    TTC Passenger says:

    Huh? I kept beating that to death in the comments here suggesting that it’d be possible to examine the pole and shoe assembly and modify it to get the electric current handling rating up high enough for the new cars. Everybody was adamant that trolley poles couldn’t be modified like I suggested and therefore pantographs would be used on the new cars with the necessary changes to the overhead wire. How’d the impossible suddenly become so possible?

    Steve: This has been the plan for a few years.

    Steve says:

    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.

    TTC Passenger says:

    Extremely hard to source. For example, say the TTC decides to keep 10 historic CLRVs. Taking into account the car that’s been scrapped, that leaves 185 parts units. Strip’em before they go to the scrappers and you’ve got tons of parts. That doesn’t even include the inventory that’s not installed on cars.

    As an aside to the technical issues, the CLRVs and ALRVs may not give you any warm and fuzzy feelings but that doesn’t invalidate the fact that, like it or not, they have been a part of the city for 30 years (CLRVs, less for ALRVs) and counting, but I’m sure there are people out there who immediately think of those cars when you say the word ‘streetcar’, who weren’t around when PCC and Peter Witt cars were commonplace due to either age or geographical location.

    Steve: There may be 185 sets of equipment off scrapped cars, but that doesn’t mean that they will work. By the time the last cars retire, there will be is no inventory of uninstalled parts because they’ve been patching things together for years.

    I didn’t say we won’t keep the CLRVs, but they will not have for me the same allure as the PCC fleet. The PCCs were well-designed cars that ran for years all over North America and had offshoots in Europe. The CLRVs were well-described as the Edsels of the streetcar, and they almost destroyed the Toronto system even though, short term, they saved it.


  17. Now I found one thing to disagree with you on. To be quite honest with you I actually do find the present cars to have at some nostalgia to them although I must admit that it still doesn’t exactly come up to that of a PCC but, hey, it’s still there nonetheless. Nobody knows better then I do that the things have, sad to say, their share of shortcomings but you just simply can’t knock their eye appeal. I just hope that the TTC doesn’t find itself with with something that isn’t much better than what it has now.


  18. In regards to the roads with 4 lanes crossing at 90 degrees, and limited space for turns, is this a Toronto only problem? I would think that many cities Toronto’s size would have this problem, so how do other cities deal with it? You would also think sharp turns would be a bigger problem in Europe where streets are commonly very narrow.

    Steve: Two issues here. One is that pro-transit Eurpean cities can build or rebuild routes and road space to suit their new cars with more freedom than in Toronto. Also, cities with radial networks tend to have far fewer lines crossing and therefore fewer intersections to deal with.


  19. Steve:

    Why do you say that the CLRV almost destroyed the Toronto system?

    Steve: They were needlessly heavy, designed for 70mph suburban operation in the mistaken belief by UTDC that this was the type of car needed for the international market. The wheels originally installed on them destroyed the pavement because they were not as resiliant as the old PCC wheels which are mechanically similar to those now used on the CLRV/ALRV fleet. The electronics were unreliable leading to frequent breakdowns and a higher spare ratio requirement than on earlier fleets.

    If the TTC had set out to damage the reputation of streetcars deliberately, they did a great job in buying these cars. Yes, they saved the system from complete shutdown, but they helped to worsen the mode’s reputation in the process.


  20. Steve, how long can the ALRV’s and CLRV’s last? The Spadina and QQ stations might be problems, but if we use CLRVs and ALRVs while the new cars come in (they wont all be in until 2018) does that not give us enough time to update these stations?

    Steve: The old fleets are expected to be along for about 10 years (at least part of them), but the problems at stations are structural and space isn’t always available to make platforms longer.


  21. It’s really ironic that you dislike the CLRVs — no other model, past or present, can achieve that kind of smooth ride. I remember my first ride on one of them, and I walked away with the feeling that the car was floating on air.

    Why you prefer those earthquake rattle boxes called PCCs is beyond me, but I guess it’s all nostalgia because that’s what you grew up with. The CLRV and ALRVs are far superior than any PCC and when people see how bumpy the new cars will be they’ll miss our current fleet.


  22. 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.

    Is there any benefit to have the trolley poles on the legacy fleet (now we can use this phrase again) reconfigured with the longer shoe so they can pick up more power?

    For example, if the “Legacy fleet” (that term again) cars are rebuilt and require more electronics, needing air conditioning, etc.

    Steve: No. The power draw is at peak for acceleration and grade climbing. The new cars are larger and heavier, and therefore need more power.

    Steve: One particular hope I have is that, like the bus displays, we will get route names back on the streetcars.

    I hope they can do that as well – a simple gesture but a nice one. When I first moved to Mississauga (along Dundas st) I noticed that their “Route 1” bus schedules also had the name “The Dundas Line” printed.

    It was a little thing but a nice thing.

    Oh, and a posting on the new streetcars has been made to TRANSIT’s website in Malaysia –

    Cheers, Moaz Yusuf Ahmad

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Cheers, Moaz


  23. 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.”

    Moaz: Considering the variety of designs used for the Flexity, I am sure that there is something iconic that can be incorporated into the Toronto design. Do you prefer the Dustbuster (Porto, Milan), the robot (Brussels, Palerme, Geneva), the robot with the chin (Eskisehir, Linz, Lodz, Graz) or my personal iconic favourite, the “Star Wars Medi-bot” (Marseilles).

    Cheers, Moaz


  24. Wotan wrote, “I have never understood how the TTC could even think that they could match current headways with less vehicles.”

    The simple answer is: with more doors and a new fare collection system. We’ll have to wait and see if this actually makes a difference, but I suspect that the all-too-common ‘farting around’ factor does just as much, if not more, to screw up operation than mixed traffic does.


  25. Let’s be honest – with twice the capacity, some of the routes won’t need as many vehicles. Spadina in particular comes to mind, where they have over 20 vehicles providing a 2-minute service – but reality is that they all cluster up. With 5 doors to enter the vehicle rather than 1, and no clustering, I’m sure an every 3-minute service would suffice. And if the average speed can be increased (with less clustering, and boarding time) then there should be less vehicles necessary at peak.

    Steve: 4 doors, not 5, but the idea still holds. I am willing to bet that on a 3 minute headway there will still be bunching.

    And really it’s only AM peak that is the issue here, PM peak requires 5% less vehicles.

    And if King was fixed (ala Queen’s Quay), how many less cars would be necessary; there are currently 45 cars comitted to the AM Peak service on a 4-minute service yet by mid-morning, it only has 25 cars providing the same service level.

    Steve: No, King operates a 2-minute headway inbound from Dundas West for nearly an hour provided by trippers that come out in between the basic 4-minute headway. That’s why there are so many cars. It is not, for the most part, due to differences in running time. AM peak times are driven almost entirely by loading delays, not by traffic congestion. Faster, all door, POP loading will save a lot of time and make better use of the vehicles’ capacity.


  26. “the longer expected lifespan of a new car (at least a factor of 2, probably more including potential for rebuilding)”

    How long did they expect the PCCs to last? They did end up lasting 30 years, not including how long they ran in their city of origin. More then a few still run to this day.

    How long do you expect the new cars to last? Hopefully they’ll meet the 40 years that the CLRVs are going to have to last, but I doubt they are going to be a mainstay for 60 years.

    “If the TTC had set out to damage the reputation of streetcars deliberately, they did a great job in buying these cars.”

    It could have been worse. They could have bought Boeing LRVs which where built around the same time as the CLRVs.


  27. How often do you think I’ll get by-passed at a stop if I stand further back to do a POP entry at a secondary door? Sometimes the drivers don’t even stop when you’re waiting at the pole with the sign. And not that I’m much of a supporter of parking spaces, but how many spots will have to be removed across the entire system to make way for the new cars’ loading arrangement?


  28. “The option of paying a fare to the operator will vanish”
    So, visitors to the city, keen on using public transit to get around, will hop on board, cash in hand… and find they have to get off, buy a ticket somewhere else (where?) and then get on.

    TTC cannot seriously be planning on this… can they?

    Steve: Just like all the other cities that don’t provide onboard fare collection or sale. The tourists will learn.


  29. The low profile of the Flexity really makes me wonder how it will fare during a typical Toronto snowstorm. I guess that will be one of the many non-revenue tests they will be conducting in 2011.


  30. Part of the problem with dwell times at the stops are due to the speed at which the doors open and close. As an operator in bus, the the old GMs, and Flyers with dual stream exists using treadle mats where the doors pop open then “clunk, clunk, clunk, psshht” the bus is roaring and off it goes. With the newer Low Floor Flyers, and the Orion 7s, the doors slowly open, stay open, and slowly close. The amount of time spent at each stop has increased despite people already having alighted from the bus.

    The same has happened in streetcar, where you could pop the doors open in a PCC while it was still rolling to a stop, you had to wait until they were fully closed before the you had power, but the extra few seconds saved with the doors opening early made a difference. The CLRVs and ALRVs must come to a complete stop before the doors open, but they are still quick to close. I am concerned with the new cars with giant slide glide doors taking aeons to open and close at every stop.

    The new cars are going to have to either bi-folding doors like the front doors of the current fleet, or the slide glides are going to have to be very fast at opening and closing, otherwise there will be too much time spend at each stop.

    Part of the problem is the TTC’s insistence of having a streetcar stop every 12 feet, maybe if we removed some of these and had super-stops much like what has happening in St. Kilda Melbourne now, service speed could increase.


  31. As a follow up to ” Moal Yusef Ahmad’s ” comment on April 27 at 4:33 am.

    The present conceptual design is not that bad. I was was expecting worse.

    I was actually hoping for something that could compete with the NICE or LYON designs. The French trams look the best. Do not expect to see those types of streetcars in Toronto.


  32. Darwin, you ain’t kidding about the Boeing LRVs. What I can’t believe is that Manchester, UK was crazy enough to buy a tiny number of them from San Francisco. Whomever made that decision to buy them in Manchester must have had SUCKER written all over him! Well, regarding the new TTC cars, if they go with Bombardier with the TC cars, what else will be different about those cars besides the fact that they will be bi-directional with doors on both sides and pantographs?


  33. Note to CLRV4037

    European plug doors work very well and are not slow. Be thankful that the car we’ll get does not have the large single doors such as on the now-obsolete design for Strasbourg and Milan. They take forever, and Bombardier was not quick to learn this as the Milan cars were delivered several years after those in Strasbourg. Imagine, too, how slow those are when a last-minute boarder or alighting passenger stops the door when halfway closed and the safety mechanism opens it again. I’ve seen two minute stops with no traffic signal as doors open..and close part way…and open..and close partway…and (well, you get the picture).

    The Toronto car is very similar to those in Brussels, Graz, Linz, Innsbruck, Geneva and several other places. All have performed well when I’ve been on them, and I noticed no door issues.

    The Bombardier-provided artist conception, such as it was, appears also to have a single leaf door at the rear. Hard to tell, but there appears to be a protruding step plate at the back. We’d all better hope that door exists on the final design, there are few enough doors in the front and middle. If it isn’t there, the rearmost of the five units will be virtually useless, just like the rear of the current fleet.

    The interiors that I’ve seen APPEAR to be based on the narrow Brussels car, I think it’s 2400mm wide. Ours SHOULD have a wider aisle in view of the fact that they’ll be nearly 2.6 meters in width (8′ 6″ roughly).


  34. Quick question I’d like to post to you and to the board, Steve, for the sake of discussion:

    A quick glance at the budget numbers suggests that the CLRV overhaul project now under way works out to just north of $320K per vehicle to hold them together until Toronto’s new trams come into service through 2018. If, just for fun, someone were to propose a more comprehensive refit of a CLRV–one involving a conversion of the vehicle to standard gauge, the replacement of trolley poles with pantographs, and a more comprehensive restoration of the vehicles’ bodywork and control systems to keep the vehicles on rails for, let’s speculate, 15 to 20 years–with an eye to exporting the vehicles to North American cities operating light rail systems with catenary traction power systems already in wide use, would anyone posting here have a rough-carpentry dollar figure per vehicle on what this refit might cost?

    Steve: The only cities that could use such cars are those with exclusively high-platform loading. This would be a very small market. We already know that the TTC’s estimate for roughly the same thing was over $1-million per car, and a good chunk of that was the need for replacement electronics.


  35. Two Things
    A) Does The low floor allow for level street curb access for those with mobility issues … (spacing between curb edge, sliding doors and Tram floor)? What about all the stations? Will the tracks be sunk down the last few inches for level boarding?

    Steve: Yes and no in that order. The intent is for floors to be roughly at the same height as station platforms.

    B) Looking through Bombardier website, really enjoying the PRIMOVE Catenary-Free Technology. Is this something that could be considered in the upcoming TC or in future legacy track replacements? Over head wires are as much an intrusion as billboards.

    Steve: No. Overhead systems would have to remain in place until the last of the CLRVs and ALRVs were retired, and there would be no point in having a completely duplicate system for power distribution, especially one that would require complete reconstruction of the trackbeds. The last time I was at Dundas Square, I noticed the billboards a lot more than the overhead power supply for the streetcars.

    This technology is intended for a niche market where the extra expense of putting the power supply underground is offset by the special character (historic buildings and views) of the neighbourhood traversed by the trams. Transit City lines do not operate in such neighbourhoods.


  36. Steve: “Just like all the other cities that don’t provide onboard fare collection or sale. The tourists will learn.”

    The crucial difference is that those systems have stations – i.e., there a relatively small number of clearly defiend places where you board and alight, all of which have ticket machines. However, Toronto’s streetcars stop all over the place (with less indicatation than for a bus…). This means either TTC will have to provide ticket machines at every intersection (with all the associated costs), or have people wondering where to buy tickets.

    Steve: The TTC is well aware that fare collection and ticketing strategies need to be revised. The biggest problem will be the turf war between a “make do for now” incremental scheme the TTC is likely to favour and Queen’s Park’s Presto smartcard system. Even those smartcards will need a way to be purchased and loaded with “cash” value, and that’s a challenge the Presto project must face if their medium is to become the only method of paying fares throughout the GTA.

    These are not just TTC problems, although it’s popular to bash the TTC because they are the first system out the gate with a truly widespread implementation of proof-of-payment on a large system with many casual riders.


  37. Another option for tourist payments would be to sell pre-paid cards at convenience stores and such (or even offered by hotels as service to their guests).

    While smart cards are probably the way to go in the future, there isn’t much information on how Presto is implemented on the back-end. Given the goings-on in other transit systems, the transit authorities better examine things closely:

    New York’s MetroCard seems fairly resilient to fraud:

    Steve: Proof-of-payment schemes long predate smart card technology. It’s important that the TTC (and the GTA) not be browbeaten into technology for its own sake, but have a system that can actually work and be convenient for all concerned.


  38. Suggesting that all systems with on-board fare validation use a system that has ticket machines at all stops is inaccurate. Gothenburg, Sweden as an example, they have kiosks at larger stops with multiple intersecting routes (which are more like convenience stores run by the transit agency, think of a Gateway Newstands selling tickets), but otherwise, it is up to the rider to purchase tickets from somewhere like a convenience store before boarding. The TTC already commonly deals with convenience stores (and other types of places, like schools) along or near its routes as authorized ticket agencies. Putting automated vending machines at every surface stop is a ridiculous waste of infrastructure investment when we have convenience stores at or near most intersections anyway (maybe not so much in the core where real estate gets pricey, but other than that). Convenience stores are our ticket-vending infrastructure in this case. A map on the shelter pointing to the nearest ticket vendor is all we’d need for the majority of stops. The only thing we need to define is what the acceptable distance should be from the stop.

    Viva needs to have fare vending machines at every stop because convenience stores are practically an alien concept in the 905. Transit City could see some parts of its network suffer from similar problems.


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