Transit City Cars to be Built by Bombardier

Today, Metrolinx announced that they would exercise the option in the TTC’s order for Light Rail Vehicles with Bombardier for the Transit City fleet.

Here is the press release:

Metrolinx will be entering into formal negotiations with Bombardier Inc. to exercise the option from the replacement streetcar contract to purchase Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs).

The negotiations with Bombardier to procure LRVs are part of Metrolinx’s phased plan which is being developed for the four Light Rail Transit (LRT) projects as requested by the Province.

In June, 2009, following an open competitive procurement process, Bombardier was awarded the original contract to produce vehicles for TTC’s legacy streetcar replacement. This contract contains an option clause that provides Metrolinx with the ability to purchase additional LRVs from Bombardier for the four LRT projects.

Over the past six months, Metrolinx, with the assistance of the TTC and the international transit car expert LTK Engineering Services, evaluated its procurement alternatives. Metrolinx, with the unanimous support of its Board of Directors, concluded that entering the negotiation to exercise the option would obtain the best value for Ontario.

If the negotiations are successful, Metrolinx will announce the details of the procurement when an agreement is reached.

Note the reference to the “phased plan”.  This is the stretched out implementation scheme for the funded Transit City lines contemplated by the March budget cuts to transit.

The timing of this announcement is odd in that it falls between Metrolinx Board Meeting cycles.  It’s almost as if Queen’s Park is trying to tell us that they have not forgotten Transit City.

Updated at 10:15 pm:  See also coverage by the Toronto Star’s and National Post of this announcement.

17 thoughts on “Transit City Cars to be Built by Bombardier

  1. This announcement caught me by surprise too. It does sound like Queen’s Park is using Metrolinx to do some damage control over the $4 billion surprise. I wouldn’t exactly call this good news because negotiations are simply discussions and aren’t a commitment to buy anything until a contract is signed. Metrolinx hasn’t agreed to buy any light rail cars yet, which by extension means that the light rail lines to run them on are not a done deal at all.

    In any event, would a commitment to buy light rail cars from Bombardier be any better than negotiations? We just saw how committed the commitments from the province on Transit City are, after all. Whatever the intent and motivation behind this announcement was, after the $4 billion surprise, I still don’t think either the government of Ontario or Metrolinx can be trusted by any of us.


  2. I am glad the TTC has figured out who is going to supply the cars for these projects. I went to the info. meeting at a high school on Midland Ave. last night and these plans they have to accomodate the LRT on the present RT route and its extension, plus what they are going to do with Kennedy Station is really going to improve transit here in Toronto.


  3. Is this a move to preclude any suggestion that TC lines be converted to BRT?

    Steve: If Queen’s Park decides to go that route, nothing stops them. It’s not as if they have signed a commitment to buy hundreds and hundreds of LRVs for which a home would be needed.


  4. Alas, and alack, no new surface vehicle will ever match the sleek, art-deco design; the romance of the PCC.

    Of course, the one thing that really dates this picture, apart from the changes of the streetscape, is the fact that one can see FOUR streetcars (one waaaay in the distance) at one time on Queen St.!


  5. David: one can see FOUR streetcars (one waaaay in the distance) at one time on Queen St.!

    Well, I think the difference is that shortly after that picture was taken, there were more streetcars, rather than a half hour of nothing.

    Steve: There’s a postcard shot of Bloor Street east of Avenue Road in which the trains of PCCs stretch into the distance in both directions.


  6. What’s really unfortunate is that Bombardier (and most other manufacturers for that matter) truly believes they are building attractive vehicles that suit their surroundings. While they may be remembered for their ‘boldness’, I’m not sure why sticking out like a sore thumb is supposed to be a good thing. What surprises me more though is that all the folks responsible for buying these products agree with the designers. Couple that with some spectacular failures in terms of reliability and it’s clear that the industry and many of its customers have lost sight of their most fundamental goals.


  7. Another thing that completely blows the economic arguments for standard guage Transit City cars is this new notion of phasing and delaying funding. The legacy cars will be Flexity I’s (I know they are completely separate – keep reading to see my point), and the TC cars were also to be based on Flexity I. By the time we see the first TC cars they may be Flexity II. But by the time we see orders placed to cover additional lines and any other Southern Ontario ‘fantasy’ systems that may or may not appear, we may be well beyond any commonality of parts and designs. There may not even be a Flexity series at all any longer. (By then we’ll be told the only model available is a maglev-monorail propelled by hydrogen rockets – I believe it will be based on the Disney Mark X which should be ready by then. The TTC will be forced to change their paint scheme to a set of Aquafresh toothpaste-coloured swooshes. There will be a express branchline to Quebec serviced only by vacuum-equipped armoured cars. After they’ve toured the city sucking up all our hard-earned cash they will make a hasty run for the border. Of course it will duplicate the high-speed corridor conventional rail line funded by the Feds sometime in the next century – SNC Lavalin will need a new pet project of their own. As such the TurboTrain will be duly returned to production.)

    I may be most annoyed about the guage issue, but any other arguments about common designs/parts and bulk purchasing have been thrown out the window together by this government’s move. And whatever came of the suggestion that the foot-dragging on the contract and guage change were intended to open the door to other vendors? Like I said once before – don’t expect to see any other car builder bother to bid on rail contracts in this Province ever again. The game is rigged.


  8. Because it’s Metrolinx and not the TTC, do we even know if such cars will appear in Toronto, even if they are purchased? LRT is perfect for lines that are too busy for bus traffic, but not busy enough for heavy rail. GO probably has a bunch of these currently. There are probably dozens of cities, like Hamilton that could use some form of street railway.

    Even if they are used in Toronto, there is no reason for the TC cars to be the same guage as the current Streetcars. They use a different power collection system, they don’t have the modifications for the tight turns needed for the Streetcars. The only reason to build one to TTC gauge is so that it can be towed along streetcar tracks. Having said that, to change the gauge you simply need a different axle length, with the TTC Gauge being wider then standard gauge, but less then Indian or Russian Gauge, should be fairly easy to accommodate, no matter who builds the cars.

    I think it was intended from the beginning though to piggyback this on top of the streetcar contract. Future projects may be done separately, and other vendors, especially if the dollar stays high, may be able to compete on those.


  9. Even that’s not an option, seeing as the Orion VII went the way of the New Flyer into typical North American design mediocrity. The Nova LFS, as seen in Brampton, is quite a nice design, better resolved I think than the Van Hools used in Europe and York Region. Volvo Trucks in general have held a higher standard than most other groups. The LRV in Marseilles is particularly beautiful, and I think that customization is probably a great idea, if only we had some kind of theme to run with….


  10. When I look at an Orion 7, I think the TTC ones anyway look like someone took a bus, and kludged a whole pile of extra crap on it, the Hybrids are even more so. The Next Gen are not as ugly as the first gen.


  11. “The Nova LFS, as seen in Brampton, is quite a nice design”

    Ottawa has a handful of Nova LFS, and they are universally hated by drivers and passengers alike. And whoever designed, at least in the Ottawa fleet, the seating arrangement obvisouly thinks seating is for wimps.


  12. Why is the province so against using the words “Transit City”?

    Steve: Because it’s a Miller/Giambrone slogan.


  13. David C: The OC Novas are of the 1st gen models. You cannot expect a new company to roll out a perfect model on the first attempt. I have ridden the OC Novas, and agree: They are terrible buses. I have also ridden the Novas in Brampton, and found them to be excellent buses.


  14. The Nova LFS tested by the TTC had a problem with the transmission not engaging on uphill slopes sometimes. I experienced this myself on a TTS charter in Etobicoke. Undoubtedly they fixed the problem since then but I’m sure it didn’t inspire much confidence. Other than that I thought them pretty nice actually and certainly a refreshingly different look. I’ve ridden them in Guelph where they seem to be doing just fine (and where the schedules run like clockwork according to my friend there, plus electronic fareboxes and well-mannered employees).


  15. Not too long ago, Steve posted an article with a pdf from the TTC. (“…report regarding the purchase of new buses…”)

    The reasons for the purchase of the Orion VII over the NF D40LF and the NovaBus LFS were such:

    *Government is giving us money for clean-air buses;
    *Orion VII uses carbon steel, which has better rust resistance;
    *New Flyer was overlooked because of past rust problems, and because it doesn’t have carbon steel, and;
    *NovaBus was overlooked because the new generation LFS is a recent product, and hasn’t gone through long term testing.

    As for drivers liking buses, the drivers I’ve spoken to hate the Orion VII.


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