Funding for New Streetcars (Updated)

Update June 19 at 10:20 am:  My interview today with Metro Morning is now available online.

The Toronto Star and Globe & Mail report that Premier Dalton McGuinty and Mayor David Miller will announce that the purchase of 204 new streetcars Toronto will proceed.  This is expected to occur on Friday in Thunder Bay.

There is no word at present on the status of funding from Ottawa.

Meanwhile, a study prepared for Bombardier shows that there would be significant benefits to both Queen’s Park and Ottawa both for job stimulus and for tax revenue that would come back to them from this order plus the follow-on option for Transit City cars.  The study is available on the Globe & Mail’s Toronto Blog (in small print down at the bottom of the article).

An important component of the calculation is the premise that the Transit City fleet will have 50% Canadian content, not 25% as in the initial 204 cars for the “legacy” streetcar system.  This substantially increases the economic impact of the combined order.

One troubling comment in the Star’s article is that the existing cars are “failing so fast, the TTC anticipates having to use buses on some routes later this year”.  Well now, if memory serves, TTC staff were asked to produce a report on fleet availability and planning back around the start of 2009.  This was expected to surface in April, and the latest I have heard is that we might see it in July.

Considering that the TTC will have parts of various lines shut down for track or other repairs, the idea that they don’t have enough cars that work is laughable.

  • 512 St. Clair won’t see service west of Bathurst until late 2009 at best
  • 504 King is cut back to Queen and Roncesvalles this Sunday until late 2010
  • 505 Dundas is cut back to Bathurst Station for July and August
  • 502 Downtowner and 503 Kingston Road will be replaced by buses for the August and September periods due to track replacement at Bingham Loop (why this is taking so long is a total mystery, and I cannot help thinking that it is a handy excuse)

The reliability problem with our streetcar fleet is known, but what is alarming is the lack of information about what is really happening.  The TTC wrings its hands about problems with adding service to accommodate new demand, and they don’t even have enough working cars, they claim, to run the existing service.

Why are they failing?  What is happening here?  What’s the big secret?  Are we simply trying to save money by cutting back on maintenance?

Answers please!