TTC Subway and Streetcar Plan Updates

At its meeting on June 22, 2015, the TTC Board will consider two reports affecting the future subway and streetcar fleets in Toronto.

In the case of the subway fleet, plans have been updated to provide for implementation of four-car Toronto Rocket (TR) train operation on the 4 Sheppard subway line.

For the streetcar fleet, there is an update, albeit with some doubts on the TTC’s part, regarding delivery of the new Flexity fleet by Bombardier.

Subway Fleet Update

With the changeover to Automatic Train Control (ATC) on the 1 Yonge University line, the continued presence of non-ATC trains such as the T1 sets used on 4 Sheppard becomes an operational challenge. Earlier in the ATC project, the scheme was to have two parallel signal systems that would allow co-existence of ATC and non-ATC trains (including work cars) on the line, but this added a level of complexity and cost to the project. Now that the design has been consolidated to an “all ATC” basis, keeping non-ATC trains active on the YUS does not fit with the plan.

Originally, the TTC had intended to operate a mix of T1 and TR trainsets on the YUS, but that was before (a) a decision to move to ATC operations was certain, (b) the difficulty of retrofitting ATC to the T1 Fleet was fully appreciated, and (c) the shift to the TR unit train design had been made. The TTC has more T1 cars than it needs to operate the Bloor-Danforth line because originally some of this fleet was intended to stay on the YUS.

TR Trains

In the 2015 version of the subway fleet plan (beginning on p. 12 of the TTC report), the evolution of the fleets, in summary, was:

  • A fleet of 80 trainsets would be acquired to provide for replacement of the now-retired H-series trains (60 trainsets), the Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE, 10 trainsets), and future growth possible with ATC (10 trainsets).
  • Delivery of the last of the 80 trainsets was expected to be in 2017.
  • In 2014, the total scheduled trains for the YUS was expanded from 49 to 51 to allow for extra running time. For planning purposes, these were “borrowed” from the future TYSSE allocation.
  • In 2015, the long-awaited extension of the St. Clair West short turn to Glencairn is provided for, but the TTC has yet to announce when or if this will be implemented. It has not been mentioned as part of the 2015 budget’s service initiatives.
  • By 2016, the TYSSE was to be open requiring six additional trains for a total service of 58 trainsets. This requirement has now been pushed off to late 2017 because of delays on the TYSSE project.
  • With the implementation of ATC, seven more trainsets would be added to service for a total of 65, nominally in 2019 assuming that ATC is ready to be switched on by then.
  • Service would grow with occasional additions to the line bringing total service up to 73 peak trains by 2031.

There are a few fundamental problems with this plan, notably that it requires a spare factor well below the TTC’s usual level. The target typically is 15% and this provides for a variety of needs:

  • Routine preventative maintenance.
  • Warranty repairs early in the life of the fleet.
  • Major overhauls at critical intervals through the lifespan.
  • Declining reliability as the cars reach end-of-life.

The TTC proposed to reduce its spare factor for the TR sets so that by the 2026, there would be 70 trainsets in peak service plus 9 spares, or 12.7%. By that time, however, the next cycle of car acquisitions will be in progress (see below).

In the revised plan, the last four trainsets of the order would be reconfigured as six four-car units. This will require the creation of 12 “A” cars (the cab units) in place of the planned 8. The remaining 12 cars would be configured as variants on the “B” cars in the six-car trains, but this would require some changes to consolidate equipment now shared over the entire six cars onto four. It is not simply a case of removing two cars from the consist (see the report for further information).

The six four-car trainsets would form a separate subfleet for the Sheppard line, while providing for an increase of peak service from four to five trains. However. this would reduce the fleet available for the YUS from 80 to 76 trainsets, a very tight spare ratio for a 70-train service. Whether this can actually be achieved is a mystery considering that the TTC has repeatedly claimed higher reliability for its new fleets, but never actually achieved the lower spare factor and capital savings it would represent. Moreover, their maintenance practices have been accustomed to having a surplus of equipment rather than running close to the line

T1 Trains

The original plan for the T1 fleet, in summary, was:

  • The TTC has a fleet equivalent to 62 trainsets. These cars are in “married pairs” so that they do not necessarily stay together as six-car sets like the TRs, but will shift around depending on maintenance requirements.
  • The BD subway now requires 45 trains for peak service, and Sheppard takes the equivalent of 3 trains (16 cars in 4×4-car sets) for a total of 48. Spares at 15% bring the total requirement to 55 trains leaving 6 without a home. These originally would have stayed on the YUS, but the move to ATC and the TR trainsets made that impossible.
  • The Scarborough Subway Extension will require 6 trains for service (with no provision for a spare), assuming that only half of the trains run beyond Kennedy to the SSE terminus, and that the SSE route remains short enough that 6 trains can handle the line.
  • This fleet is scheduled for replacement starting in 2026. This also corresponds to the point at which the BD signal system conversion to ATC capability should be well underway if not complete, and future service improvements with shorter headways would require more trains.

In the revised plan, the cars now assigned to the Sheppard line become available reducing the T1 fleet requirement by 16 cars. This gives a bit more elbow room for growth including the SSE.

The Future of the Subway Fleets

Although not discussed in this report, one option that has been mentioned in TTC fleet planning is the use of longer trains on the YUS taking full advantage of the platform length and of ATC’s precision stopping capability. It is possible that the next generation of subway train would be longer, and that the TR fleet now operating on YUS would shift over to the BD line under ATC operation. This would produce a larger fleet for BD (extended) than it actually needs, but it is hard to say what other subway routes might require equipment in the timeframe leading up to the TRs retirement in the early 2030s.

One thing is quite clear in the future plans, there is a complete absence of premature ordering of equipment. It is hard on one hand to make claims about improved reliability of the T1 and TR fleets, but then plan for their early retirement. This practice was justified by volume discounts and concerns about reliability of the “H” fleet, but it had a sense of “propping up Thunder Bay” to keep the wheels turning. With more of the cost of rolling stock falling to the City of Toronto rather than senior governments, this tactic is harder to support, especially given Bombardier’s performance on the streetcar order.

Streetcar Fleet Update

It is no secret that Bombardier has severe manufacturing problems with the Flexity cars. Although the TTC claims high reliability for the vehicles once they pass acceptance, deliveries are a year behind schedule. The rollout should, by now, have worked through 510 Spadina, 509 Harbourfront, 511 Bathurst and be well through 505 Dundas, but instead only a handful of cars is in service. The status according to the TTC is:

  • Two cars (4401 and 4402) are prototypes used for testing and training, but not for revenue service.
  • One car is undergoing repairs (not from an equipment failure).
  • One car (4408) is in Toronto for final testing and acceptance, and should enter service late in June.
  • Five cars are either in revenue service or being used for training.

The most recent proposed delivery schedule (See report p. 6) would bring the in-service fleet to 27 cars by the end of 2015 (10 fewer than the originally contracted 37 by the end of 2014). A gradual recovery of the delivery target to 2019 would be achieved through production at a higher rate, usually 48 cars/year rather than the originally planned 36.

The critical text in the TTC report reveals some doubt about Bombardier’s ability to deliver on commitments:

Based on supporting documentation received to-date, and staff’s assessment of production readiness of Bombardier’s Thunder Bay and Sahagun, Mexico plants, TTC staff believe that there is a high risk that Bombardier may not be able to meet its revised schedule submitted on June 1, 2015 for year end 2015; and a medium risk that Bombardier may not meet the revised schedule for contract completion of 204 new streetcars by 2019.

An update Board Report will be submitted for the September Board meeting on the status of the actual delivery, agreement on a moving-forward schedule and agreement on commercial terms. [p. 9]

A related question is the status of cars ordered by Metrolinx either for its Toronto lines or on behalf of the Kitchener-Waterloo, Mississauga and Hamilton LRT projects. It has been convenient for Bombardier that they can blame delays on the “TTC Specification”, but if they are unable to churn out Metrolinx cars like clockwork, this excuse will wear thin.

Meanwhile, the TTC knows that it faces a need for more than the original 204-car order, but Toronto Council is understandably nervous about committing more money when the deliveries have been so unreliable. Bombardier’s future as a car-builder for Toronto may rest on its ability to reliably produce quality equipment.

38 thoughts on “TTC Subway and Streetcar Plan Updates

  1. Burning question here Steve. Worst case scenario is there an out for the flexity contract? I read the media reports and can see how annoyed Byford, Colle and the TTC are getting with Bombardier.

    I wonder if there is an out contract wise. If this keeps up I can see them wanting out of the contract for non-compliance. You can bet your octogenarian ass Steve that the TTC and the City are having their lawyers look into that.

    Steve: I am sure there is, but it would take a major failure, which Bombardier can hardly stand given its precarious situation in the market, and the 1/3 contribution to the contract by Queen’s Park pretty much guarantees that pulling the plug would only be an act of very last resort.

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  2. Presuming Barmbardier is able to ramp up production to projected levels, does the TTC have the capacity to complete acceptance testing of the new cars in an accelerated manner? My impression is the TTC is currently taking 3 weeks – 1 month per vehicle.

    Steve: It’s a question of accumulating testing hours on the cars. Even on the original schedule, they were going to show up 3/month. Moving up to 4/month should not be a stretch.

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  3. I made a comment in the older Bombardier thread that seems to have disappeared but the important points were the scheduled Flexity ramp up has slipped a third time (this time from July to September) and the TTC has been putting only 2 or 3 Flexity cars out each day on the 510 and 509 combined in recent weeks.

    It’s beyond embarrassing that almost 10 months after the big launch on Spadina there are many days when there are fewer new cars on the 510 now than last year.

    Steve: The comment has not disappared. I was holding it for inclusion in this thread, but have not had a chance to move it yet.

    Here it is:

    There’s a new staff report coming to the TTC board next week entitled New Streetcar Delivery Recovery Plan and Schedule.

    Here are some key points:

    The new streetcars have attained a very high level of reliability and availability, and enjoyed a high level of acceptance and satisfaction from customers.

    Despite continual CEO-President level conversations on delivery between the two organizations, the challenge to produce quality vehicles has unfortunately proven to be too formidable. This resulted in promised vehicles for the service launch for Route 510 Spadina on August 31st sliding from a forecast of 14 cars in March, to 8 cars in May, to ending up with only 2 cars on launch day.

    I’ve been watching TransSee throughout the day for the past week and of the 6 vehicles on property, only 2 and sometimes 3 are out at any given time. At the moment of this post there are 2 on the 509 and 1 on the 510, so in the 510’s case, things are worse than they were on launch day. The 18% spare ratio sure seems optimistic at this point.

    Based on supporting documentation received to-date, and staff’s assessment of production readiness of Bombardier’s Thunder Bay and Sahagun, Mexico plants, TTC staff believe that there is a high risk that Bombardier may not be able to meet its revised schedule submitted on June 1, 2015 for year end 2015

    There’s a new revised delivery schedule in the report that says Bombardier’s new ramp up schedule to 4 per month has slipped from July 2015 to September 2015 and those words quoted above show TTC staff are still skeptical of achieving it.

    For those keeping count at home, this is the third revised delivery schedule that Bombardier has submitted this year. I don’t believe it will be the last.

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  4. Even if the city can’t get out of the contract at this point, they may want to start looking at starting the process on another contract – with the stipulation to whatever company that they work with that it will only happen if they have to cancel the Bombardier contract…with all the issues Bombardier is having with their other divisions I could imagine a situation where despite ramping up they end up having major cash-flow issues and either can’t continue, or bow out, or just stop and wait for the lawyers to figure out what happens…

    The TTC is at risk of backing themselves into a fairly ugly corner here – where they might have to rely on their current fleet while they change suppliers (which could take years, especially if there is litigation). Best to have an option in the back pocket…even if it’s not happening in public the conversations with other suppliers should be happening.

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  5. One day early this week (Sunday, Monday? Both?) 4404 through 4407 were all in service according to Nextbus, and there were sightings of 4403 doing training that day, and 4400 doing training a different day. And a photo tweeted last week of 4402 being loaded on a flatcar for shipping back to Thunder Bay. No indications there are any major issues with the equipment TTC has received so far, based on performance.

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  6. My biggest concern with the new Flexity delivery schedule is that Bombardier is now flirting with “ideal conditions” when it comes to the 2016-2018 deliveries to ensure the contract is completed on time. I’m not saying that Bombardier cannot eventually do a delivery a week. However, it wouldn’t take much of a disruption to upset that timetable.

    Of course, if Bombardier were to modify a second flatcar as a sign of commitment and then deliver two Flexitys in one week at least once, then my concerns would be lessened.

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  7. A couple of weeks ago I was on a car that did not have a pantograph. There was a notice in the operator’s cab saying not to try and use the pan as it had been damaged in a test and had been removed from the car. I believe it was 4402 but am not positive.

    Steve: I doubt you were on 4402 as that is a prototype car no used for revenue service.

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  8. 4404 is the car without the pantograph — the note in the operator’s cab says it was removed “due to an incident with the overhead”. 4404 is regularly in service now without the panto.

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  9. I hate to say it, but whether we do anything with existing contracts or not the additional cars TTC needs are a large enough order in isolation to get the attention of manufacturers. We are approaching the point that the fastest route to delivery might well be cancelling the Bombardier options and ordering 60ish from a second supplier.

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  10. Nick L said:”My biggest concern with the new Flexity delivery schedule is that Bombardier is now flirting with “ideal conditions” when it comes to the 2016-2018 deliveries to ensure the contract is completed on time. I’m not saying that Bombardier cannot eventually do a delivery a week. However, it wouldn’t take much of a disruption to upset that timetable.

    Of course, if Bombardier were to modify a second flatcar as a sign of commitment and then deliver two Flexitys in one week at least once, then my concerns would be lessened.”

    I wonder the impact in terms of finances of this on the TTC. To what degree are they running additional streetcars, and buses to fill the service gap? To what degree is additional maintenance being required on the ALRVs and CLRVs? (in order to keep them operating), and how much ridership are they losing because of over crowding in the areas that they simply cannot fill the gap?

    I really do hope that this can be addressed, and that Toronto, can get itself to the point that it will look at creating more rights of way, not just for the proposed Transit City routes, but also for a couple of north south routes and the more heavily used bus routes. While LRT and current streetcar are not the same thing, a failure on these vehicles may reflect badly on how people will view similar vehicles – even from other manufacturers.

    I would love to see a basic ROW for Finch, running a single car LRT east, and connecting with the Richmond Hill GO, the Don Mills LRT and Stouffville GO. If the Toronto region is going to continue to grow at its current very high rate, Toronto itself needs to take on a great deal more density, and doing so along its avenues would be the way to do so. If this was combined with less parking, more frequent, reliable, and less intrusive transit, it would permit a more walkable lifestyle across a much larger portion of the city.

    It would be a tragedy, that this bad experience would push Toronto away from spreading the notion of streetcars in dedicated ROW where they could provide for a quiet, accessible, and frequent service to a high density livable neighborhoods.

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  11. I think the Toronto Star’s Tess Kalinowski reported that Bombardier’s Thunder Bay plant couldn’t keep to schedule because Bombardier had spread the work out, and the basic chassis components were being built in a Bombardier plant in Mexico, and, when they arrived, Thunder Bay workers found the components from Mexico were crudely built and routinely out of spec.

    It sounds like Bombardier is troubled. It sounds like it went through a period of acquisition of other manufacturers of rail and aerospace vehicles. It sounds like it may have placed too much emphasis on acquisition of other companies merely to reduce the number of rivals, without paying attention to whether those rivals’ factories could deliver quality products.

    If I am not mistaken, there has also been expensive delays in its rollout of its flagship airliner, and Bombardier is relying on revenue from its rail vehicle manufacture to keep working on the money-losing flagship airliner.

    Sad. I’ve seen commentators compare it to Nortel and Blackberry, and predicted it would be the next big Canadian high-tech darling to stumble.

    If Bombardier acquired Mexican plants in an acquisition intended mainly to reduce the number of competitors, and not because the Mexican plants could produce high quality components, it would be in Toronto’s best interest if Bombardier directed other more reliable factories to supply Thunder Bay with the components that the Mexican plant can’t reliably supply.

    Some companies buy competitors, and then simply mothball the factories their competitors formerly ran. Maybe Bombardier didn’t do that this time because running plants in Mexico helped them compete for contracts in Mexico and nearby Latin American companies?

    Last week the CBC broadcast a long segment where some reporters visited the Mexican branch plants of some small Canadian manufacturers. Canadian manufacturers can pay their Mexican factory workers one tenth the wages they would pay a Canadian factory worker. That is fine, for them, provided the Mexican plant can manufacture components to the same standard as the Canadian plant. One of the Mexican workers, who worked at a Canadian branch plant that built big transformers, said that prior to his hiring he didn’t know anything about electricity, and didn’t even know what a transformer was.

    I’ve wondered whether Bombardier’s Thunder Bay workers were magnifying the problems with the Mexican components because they feared that unless they complained that the quality control at the Mexican factories was sub-par, Bombardier would divert more work to the low-paying Mexican factories.

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  12. Steve:

    It is no secret that Bombardier has severe manufacturing problems with the Flexity cars. Although the TTC claims high reliability for the vehicles once they pass acceptance, deliveries are a year behind schedule. The rollout should, by now, have worked through 510 Spadina, 509 Harbourfront, 511 Bathurst and be well through 505 Dundas, but instead only a handful of cars is in service.

    Enough is enough. I support streetcar service where ridership warrants it but this is ridiculous. TTC should immediately cancel the contract with Bombardier and look to extend the life of existing streetcars and replace with articulated buses where extending such life is not possible. Perhaps we can look at another streetcar supplier in the long run but buses will be necessary to replace the streetcars at least in the short-run when the old ones are too old and given Bombardier’s inability to produce new ones which are plagued with all kinds of problems.

    Steve: If the problems had been with Bombardier’s TR trains, would you argue that it was time to close the subway, or at least those parts of it where a BRT solution would be the answer?

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  13. At the least TTC should insist that Bombardier hire an independent third party to do some analysis to help TTC identify if the problem is really going to be fixable in the timeframes given.

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  14. Enough is enough. I support streetcar service where ridership warrants it but this is ridiculous. TTC should immediately cancel the contract with Bombardier and look to extend the life of existing streetcars and replace with articulated buses where extending such life is not possible.

    They are spending money to overhaul 30 of the articulated streetcars with a plan for up to 10 more according to a piece in yesterday’s Metro. The funds for such may come from liquidated damages once all is said and done.

    Am I correct in thinking your idea is to convert the existing yards to store the 450 articulated buses required for your plan?

    Bustitution plans aside, I’m getting an OBI vibe from this whole fiasco. There were plenty of late deliveries with the TTC’s Orion VII bus order, many penalties paid, before the troubled OBI folded, and Bombardier seems to be on similar shaky ground at the moment.

    And…. for those keeping score, 3 LFLRV’s made it out into service this morning at around 5:30. Two on to the 509 (4404 and 4405) and one on to the 510 (4407). Apparently 4400 and 4403 are being held back for use in training so that leaves 1 spare.

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  15. As per the contract documents, Bombardier was behind schedule on deliveries of the LRV’s and TTC requested a Schedule update or a Make-up schedule.
    Bombardier has submitted a make-up schedule, as per the contract documents.
    Phase I lasts until Jan 15, 2016.

    Then there is a Phase II as per Bombardier.
    So by Jan, 15 2016, thirty LRV’s should have been delivered,
    If not the TTC has to request another make up schedule.
    That’s the way it works as per the Contract Documents.

    Bombardier is contractually obliged to deliver 204 LRV’s by Aug.19, 2019.
    Bombardier will be probably be a bit late in closing this contract.
    So if they are three months late in 2019 they have to pay a delay claim as defined in the contract documents.

    I worked in the construction industry all my life, not dealing with LRV’s, but some very complicated structures where parts and materials were coming from Thailand to Turkey, and somehow everything came together on schedule.

    A few years ago The City of Toronto wanted to slow down the delivery of the LRV’s to aid a cash flow problem.

    Just relax until Jan. 15, 2016.
    It looks like the 60th LRV will be delivered around maybe August 2017 which is a good sign.

    Question: When do the pantographs come on line?

    Steve: Not until the affected routes, their typical carhouse journeys and normal diversions and short turns have been converted. My gut feeling is that the first pan will not go up until at least 2017.

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  16. Does anyone know the list of cars being scrapped immediately? It’s really sad to see this happening already, especially considering we don’t even have an equal number of LFLRVs in service yet. Are they going to start crushing CLRVs prematurely too?

    Steve: “Prematurely” may be a stretch. The TTC has already modified its fleet plans to reflect the need to keep old cars alive and running as the new ones come on line rather than disposing of them on a strict new-for-old basis. The intent is to only scrap those cars that have been very unreliable and serve no useful purpose because they cannot be relied upon.

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  17. Jim said:

    “Enough is enough. I support streetcar service where ridership warrants it but this is ridiculous. TTC should immediately cancel the contract with Bombardier and look to extend the life of existing streetcars and replace with articulated buses where extending such life is not possible. Perhaps we can look at another streetcar supplier in the long run but buses will be necessary to replace the streetcars at least in the short-run when the old ones are too old and given Bombardier’s inability to produce new ones which are plagued with all kinds of problems.”

    I would think one issue with even thinking about articulated buses on these routes is that they appear to have issues with supporting high levels of circulation required on the Streetcar routes. One of the advantages of the cars, is the larger number of doors, which helps with the high level of turnover on these routes. Articulated buses seems to be ideal for supporting applications where there is higher ridership, but lower circulation. I would think where the great bulk of the riders are bound for a subway line and with very high ridership for instance would be a great application for Artics. Would that not mean routes like Finch East and Sheppard East?

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  18. As I understand it, the work cars will be retrofitted to use ATC? So this is possible but the same can’t be done for 4-car T1 trains for the Sheppard line? So impossible in fact that it is cheaper to buy a custom configured TR train. I find this very hard to believe.

    Steve: For work cars, all that is needed is a device that can tell the signal system “I am here” and provide cab indications of track clearance, not actually drive the train. If the T1s are going to operate to the same close headway tolerances as the TRs, then the ATC has to actually operate the train, and this requires a large retrofit to interface the new and old systems on the T1s which is quite expensive, according to the TTC. If it were just a case of providing cab signals and rudimentary overspeed control for manual operation, this would be a lot simpler.

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  19. There an item at the next TTC meeting to request an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act. From

    “The proposed amendment would require vehicles to stop two metres behind a streetcar which is stopped to serve customers, as opposed to the current legislative requirement that vehicles stop two metres behind the open door of a streetcar which is stopped to serve customers. TTC staff responsible for traffic engineering and safety have reviewed the proposed amendment and concluded that it would not materially improve the safety of customers accessing or departing streetcars, and would not be practical or achievable because car drivers would not always have sufficient advance warning to be able to stop two metres behind a streetcar which is stopping to serve customers.”

    Steve: I agree. Those who stop now do so. Those who do not stop, won’t, regardless of the wording of the law. There is also a problem with the phrase “stopped to serve customers” as the car might not open its doors immediately upon stopping. Is it “serving customers” or not?

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  20. Twice now I’ve seen a flexity pull away from a stop going the opposite direction I’m traveling, and had to cover my ears the sound is so horrible – like loudly squeling brakes, but as it accelerates. Both times it’s been 4404…did that incident with the panto also damage something else?

    I also worry that this whole fiasco will begin to ruin some of the public’s perception of what surface rail, be it streetcar or LRT, can accomplish…it just gives too much flack to the “buses buses buses!” (or worse, “cars cars cars!”) folks for my liking. It’s not difficult to see the impact streetcars have on the streets they run down…as a friend visiting the city recently remarked, it’s the streets with trains on them that are the best in the city! I hope Bombardier can get it’s act together and start delivering on their promise…at this rate, we’ll get the DRL before a full fleet of flexities😛

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  21. I absolutely agree with Dennon saying:

    “I also worry that this whole fiasco will begin to ruin some of the public’s perception of what surface rail, be it streetcar or LRT, can accomplish”

    When people think of streetcars they now tend to think of screwed-up projects and cost over-runs. (St Clair, Leslie Barns and the Bombardier delays). Of course non-LRT projects have problems too (Union Station, Nathan Phillips Square and Bombardier planes) but …. The ‘damages’ caused by Bombardier are not just late deliveries.

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  22. With the squeeze in rolling stock, is there any interest in buying used and retrofitting to Toronto gauge? At least it could cover some of the demand and it wouldn’t be the first time the TTC imported its cars. You could probably pick up some LRT cars from aging Canadian systems (C-train, I believe has road-ready cars) or ‘streetcars’ from the street railways proper that still exist in the US.

    On a related note, would it be easier to convert broader gauge or narrower gauge? Philadelphia’s broad gauge ‘trolley’ network comes to mind, wonder if they’re selling.

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  23. I’ve never heard of any of the European cities who bought the Flexity Outlook having significant problems. Unfortunately building them in Thunder Bay rather than in Vienna or Bruges seems to have meant starting over with a whole new supply chain. (Hopefully the fact that the Flexity Freedom was designed specifically for North America will help it avoid such problems.)

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  24. I am disappointed with Bombardier’s delays. If the problem really is that the Mexico plant, acquired when Bombardier bought competitors, can’t deliver parts that meet specs, I would like to see Bombardier ship those parts from one of its reliable plants. Maybe they should just close the Mexican plants?

    Anyhow, someone, above, wrote that the sixtieth vehicle probably won’t be delivered until sometime in 2017. The sixtieth vehicle is significant because the contract allows the TTC to add an additional sixty extra vehicles to the contract at the same unit price as the first 204 vehicles.

    If I understand correctly, if the TTC wants sixty extra vehicles it is not contractually obliged to buy those sixty extra Flexity vehicles. Given the delays I wonder if the TTC should go out and invite bids from other manufacturers of streetcars for those additional sixty vehicles. Yes, hardly any other manufacturers wanted to bid on the first 204 vehicles. But that was five or ten years ago. Technology has advanced. Maybe other manufacturers would bid now?

    It would be a further black eye for Bombardier if the TTC chose not to rely on them for the sixty additional vehicles. But it might be sensible to prepare. Is the worst case Bombardier going bankrupt, and failing to meet the 2019 deadline? Or would it be just as bad if they missed the deadline due to quality control problems, without going bankrupt.

    If other companies prepare credible bids is the TTC better prepared if they decide they have to give up on Bombardier? Has Bombardier already been paid the bulk of the price for those 204 vehicles?

    Steve: No. They get an upfront payment at contract signing and then it’s payment on delivery for the fleet as it is accepted car-by-car.

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  25. Steve said:

    There is also a problem with the phrase “stopped to serve customers” as the car might not open its doors immediately upon stopping. Is it “serving customers” or not?

    This seems to reflect a common misconception. The current Ontario Highway Traffic Act does not mention the doors at all.

    The current wording is :

    166. (1) Where a person in charge of a vehicle or on a bicycle or on horseback or leading a horse on a highway overtakes a street car or a car of an electric railway, operated in or near the centre of the roadway, which is stationary for the purpose of taking on or discharging passengers, he or she shall not pass the car or approach nearer than 2 metres measured back from the rear or front entrance or exit, as the case may be, of the car on the side on which passengers are getting on or off until the passengers have got on or got safely to the side of the street, as the case may be, but this subsection does not apply where a safety zone has been set aside and designated by a by-law passed under section 9, 10 or 11 of the Municipal Act, 2001 or under section 7 or 8 of the City of Toronto Act, 2006, as the case may be. 2006, c. 32, Sched. C, s. 24 (6).

    This would allow a car to (carefully) pass a streetcar that was stopped when the driver gets out to reset the switch, even if the driver doesn’t close the door.

    Steve: Even this language implies the act of loading or unloading passengers, and the usual driving convention is that the doors being open indicates that this type of activity might occur. One might even argue that open doors, absent someone actually boarding, should not block passage of vehicles. Then there are the “Stop” signs on the doors.

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  26. There’s also the issue of people walking out before the streetcar is stopped. On the one hand, this speeds things up for everyone — if the streetcar has to come to a complete stop and open its doors before anyone can step off the curb, then the streetcar will be sitting with open doors much longer than if the riders are ready to board as soon as the doors open. On the other hand, there are often cars and bicycles trying to get past the streetcar at the last moment, obviously a safety issue. I try to use common sense and my powers of observation when trying to board a streetcar. Not everyone does, though.

    Steve: The situation is not unlike that at a regular stop. People step off the curb, and traffic (cars and bikes) tries to sneak by. Maybe cyclists have a chance on QQ to show what good traffic sense they have!

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  27. Given how over budget and heavily delayed both the new streetcars and related infrastructure such as Leslie Barns, etc have been; as a taxpayer, I demand that we rethink the future of streetcars in Toronto. I am not saying that we should abandon them immediately but that the issue should be studied including how much money can be saved by using buses instead of streetcars, how the travel times of both transit riders and drivers would improve if streetcars were replaced with buses, how the reliability of both transit and transit contracts would improve if buses were used instead of streetcars, etc. I think that the city needs to seriously consider giving the Bombardier’s streetcar contract to Novabus which has provided cheap reliable buses on time and on budget not just to TTC also to York Region and municipalities throughout North America. Novabus also makes high quality articulated buses ideal for replacing streetcars. Both TTC articulated buses and VIVA articulated buses are by Novabus.

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  28. robertwightman:

    Bombardier has run into complaints in Australia for having a lot of the work on the new Flexitie 2s done in India instead of in Queensland Australia.

    Did you even read the article? What is being done in India (i.e. manufacturing) was always meant to be done in India and so no complaints there and instead what is being complained of is that there are too many Indians working on the design aspects to be done in Australia. That in and of itself is a highly racist claim – Bombardier is not a retailer or a restaurant which hires unskilled people and so could favour or discriminate against any particular group/s. Bombardier needs highly skilled engineers which leaves little room for discrimination other than that based on merit and if Indians happen to meet the criteria, then so be it. Also Bombardier said, “Currently, Bombardier is employing 46 local draftspeople, and only three are from Bombardier in India. None of the local candidates are on visas.” The issue here is that Australians with Indian background (many of whom are actually born in Australia) are not being seen as Indian by virtue of their race which is highly racist.

    “One former employee estimated that 75 per cent of the people who had been hired by the project in the 12 months he worked there were from India.” Did he/she check every employee’s citizenship documents? Of course not and instead, people are being judged as Indians on the basis of their skin colour and looks when many of these so called Indians are Australian citizens. This racism against Indians and other immigrant groups extends to other countries Western countries including Canada.

    Indians in India and Indian immigrants all over the world do all kinds of highly sophisticated scientific and engineering work and it is unfortunate that they are being judged on their race rather than their work.

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  29. Nick states:

    “…I demand that we rethink the future of streetcars in Toronto.”

    Nick,

    Somehow I get the feeling that you have been “demanding” that we get rid of Toronto’s streetcars for a long time now and this is just another excuse for you to stamp your little feet and demand it yet again!

    Why you want to throw out the baby with the bathwater is beyond me. Streetcars are a wonderful part of Toronto’s cityscape and will remain so.

    Cheers,
    Richard

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Indian says

    “Did you even read the article? What is being done in India (i.e. manufacturing) was always meant to be done in India and so no complaints there and instead what is being complained of is that there are too many Indians working on the design aspects to be done in Australia. That in and of itself is a highly racist claim “

    I was not commenting on the validity of the complaint, just that some people were making it. I read other complaints about “sending jobs offshore” but they were not as easy to reference. People everywhere complain when jobs that “could be done here are done there.” The other reference was to noise from braking and turning on the Gold Coast trams that I have also read about happening here.

    The point that I intended to make, and which I evidently did not do a good job at, was to show that complaints tend to be universal, and that some people will always complain that THOSE people are taking MY job. I did not mean to imply that people of Indian origin or those from any country were inferior in ability to any other people. I have spent the last 20 years working in Malton and Brampton and realize that if it were not for immigrants this country would not exist as we know it today. My sincere apologies if my post sound racist to you or anyone else; that was not my intent.

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  31. Nick writes

    “how the travel times of both transit riders and drivers would improve if streetcars were replaced with buses”

    Steve, I fail to understand why you post clear trolling.

    There’s no way anyone who has the capability to punctuate a sentence properly could be so frigging stupid to think replacing 264 30-metre long streetcars with 660 buses is going to make the road emptier, or provide better or faster transit.

    Steve: The punctuation and grammar is courtesy of your gracious host who cannot abide crappy text, even if it is a troll. You can tell when I am really pissed off because I don’t fix anything and you get their incompetence in its full glory.

    Some times I let the trolls through for comic relief, and sometimes they even say something worthwhile. There are some who give the appearance of trolls but do manage to advance an evolving argument, and they deserve their say, even though I may despair at how misguided they may be.

    Think of me as a missionary hoping that if only I can rescue one of them, the world will be a better place.

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  32. Correction:

    “Currently, Bombardier is employing 46 local draftspeople, and only three are from Bombardier in India. None of the local candidates are on visas.” The issue here is that Australians with Indian background (many of whom are actually born in Australia) are not being seen as AUSTRALIAN by virtue of their race which is highly racist.

    robertwightman:

    The point that I intended to make, and which I evidently did not do a good job at, was to show that complaints tend to be universal, and that some people will always complain that THOSE people are taking MY job. I did not mean to imply that people of Indian origin or those from any country were inferior in ability to any other people. I have spent the last 20 years working in Malton and Brampton and realize that if it were not for immigrants this country would not exist as we know it today. My sincere apologies if my post sound racist to you or anyone else; that was not my intent.

    Sorry for misunderstanding you. Unlike a retailer or restaurant which fills in low-skilled positions, it is not easy for a company like Bombardier (which needs highly skilled engineers, etc) to discriminate based on race. Thank you for recognising contributions of immigrants, not just Indians but all of them. Though I am an Indian, I would like to also recognise the fact that Chinese immigrants built the railways of Canada which are responsible for creating Canada as a single country from the Atlantic to the Pacific — these Chinese were made to work with very little pay and very little safety and so many died. The Chinese have been in Canada since the late 1700s and for close to 200 years suffered rampant discrimination.

    People from all countries, races, religions, etc make this country as great as it is today though racism against immigrants remains a problem but of course, most people are not racist as otherwise us immigrants would not be here.

    robertwightman:

    I read other complaints about “sending jobs offshore” but they were not as easy to reference. People everywhere complain when jobs that “could be done here are done there.”

    But everything could be done in Canada or Australia or whichever country’s taxpayers are spending the money but if it is a rich developed country like Canada or Australia, then are the taxpayers of that country willing to pay much higher taxes and prices to support high priced local manufacturing? The answer is clearly NO which is why the vast majority of the world’s manufacturing is being done in China and India. I don’t see why people in rich countries complain about jobs being allegedly sent abroad as it is all based on economics and competition and NOT discrimination (like the Queensland (Australia) government were conspiring against all Australians to send jobs abroad). They complain about jobs being allegedly sent abroad but if the things were done locally, then they would complain about much higher taxes and not being able to afford so much of the luxury (electronics, etc) they could previously afford when manufacturing was done in developing countries like China and India.

    As robertwightman rightly said, “complaints tend to be universal, and that some people will always complain that THOSE people are taking MY job.” I have seen library, etc workers being screamed at by racist people that those people are taking her/his job and other racist rants but which library, etc would hire people who would just scream swear and other awful words for people simply trying to make a living to support their family? The fact is that people who would yell racist comments about immigrants taking their jobs would be unemployed even if there were no immigrants as who would hire someone like that (as if there were no immigrants, then they would still find something else to rant, swear, scream about)?

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Richard:

    Streetcars are a wonderful part of Toronto’s cityscape and will remain so.

    I think that we need the streetcars for more than just cityscape. Yes, the streetcars provide greatly to improve the city’s landscape but they also provide clean electric high capacity surface transit (can be elevated or underground too as needed). Do we really need to replace clean electric streetcars (steel wheels) with thousands of polluting diesel bus trips every single day and further contributing to air pollution from the heavily toxic tires continuously rubbing against asphalt roads? All this air pollution harms our health and so all transit should be electric and free of tires.

    The only thing that I don’t like about Toronto’s streetcars is lack of bi-directionality (with cross-over tracks). The current loop system is time expensive and not to mention the very heavy time consuming detours which could be avoided with bi-directional streetcars with cross-over tracks. The TTC had a great opportunity (when ordering the new streetcars) to switch to the bi-directional, cross-over system that the best transit systems in the world use and of course, this would require major upgrades to existing streetcar infrastructure but the TTC is already rebuilding all the tracks and of course, the streetcars would need their own right of way with “bi-directional tracks” (to avoid head on collision with cars, etc) [by “bi-directional tracks” I mean tracks on which streetcars would travel in both directions from time to time in the event that one streetcar breaks down for example].

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  34. Nick said

    “how the travel times of both transit riders and drivers would improve if streetcars were replaced with buses”

    Steve has already posted several points addressing this issue. Streetcars actually have a higher operating speed than buses in downtown operating conditions. This link adds both Steve’s points and others.

    The “Star” has published two separate city reports regarding the most congested intersections and streets in Toronto. None of them have streetcar lines on them.

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  35. Indian says:

    “The only thing that I don’t like about Toronto’s streetcars is lack of bi-directionality (with cross-over tracks). The current loop system is time expensive and not to mention the very heavy time consuming detours which could be avoided with bi-directional streetcars with cross-over tracks. The TTC had a great opportunity (when ordering the new streetcars) to switch to the bi-directional, cross-over system that the best transit systems in the world use and of course, this would require major upgrades to existing streetcar infrastructure but the TTC is already rebuilding all the tracks and of course, the streetcars would need their own right of way with “bi-directional tracks” (to avoid head on collision with cars, etc) [by “bi-directional tracks” I mean tracks on which streetcars would travel in both directions from time to time in the event that one streetcar breaks down for example].”

    The problem is that double ended cars require twice as many controls and doors which adds to the expense of the car and reduces the seating capacity. The space opposite the double doors on the Bombardier cars is use for bike, wheel chairs and strollers. This would be lost and they would have to go elsewhere which would further cut down on the available seating.

    The tightness of Toronto’s curves means the the section suspended between the trucks cannot be long enough for two set of double doors which would leave a space between them for bikes, wheel chairs etc. I believe that this will be a problem with the cars on Eglinton.

    The narrowness of most of the streets that streetcars operates on would make it difficult to reverse cars because vehicles behind would get in the road. There are not many places where you can build more bi directional rights of way. There are many great transit systems in the world that use single ended trams.

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  36. The only thing that I don’t like about Toronto’s streetcars is lack of bi-directionality (with cross-over tracks).

    When I was a University student I went to Swarthmore Pennsylvania to work on Ted Nelson’s Project Xanadu.

    I lived in Media, about four miles away. I generally walked, but sometimes took the SEPTA streetcar. The rolling stock were double ended PCC cars. The route was double-tracked closer to Philadelphia, but the last N miles of what had originally been an interurban route were left single-tracked.

    Media was the end of the line, and had half a dozen stops. Swarthmore had a similar number of stops. Between the towns the streetcar ran through a beautiful wooded ravine. There was a siding in the ravine that allowed one streetcar to pass another.

    With regard to the comment that loops waste time. No. I don’t think they do. Because I watched what the driver had to do to set the vehicle up to turn around. I am sure you realized he had to lower the trolley pole at one end, and raise the trolley pole at the other end. In addition each bench seat was on a pivot, and the driver walked back through the vehicle rotating each bench chair 180 degrees. I doubt the turn around is any faster than navigating a streetcar around a loop.

    Steve: Modern double-ended cars tend to have fixed seats (just like the new Flexity cars in Toronto) with some facing each way, and they use pantographs rather than trolley poles (the cars now running on the Media line use pans), and so reversing at the terminal is simply a case of the operator walking from one end of the car to the other.

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  37. LFLRVs on the “511 Bathurst” route:

    The new Flexity, LFLRV streetcars are now on three routes – first the “510 Spadina” on August 31, 2014; earlier this year (spring 2015) on the “509 Harbourfront” and now (July 2015) a couple of them on the “511 Bathurst” route. With the Pan Am (and later the Parapan Am) Games underway and some of the athletic events being held at Exhibition Place, service has been increased on the “511 Bathurst” streetcar route, and includes two LFLRVs.
    Will these new streetcars be a permanent fixture on this route?

    Persons travelling by TTC to the Toronto Western Hospital, some of them outpatients using wheelchairs, take the “511 Bathurst” streetcar to get there will learn that the new LFLRVs fully accessible, which is beneficial to those with mobility issues. The CLRVs and ALRVs which this route uses aren’t wheelchair-accessible.

    Steve: Now that there are at least six LFLRVs (soon to be seven) in service, the TTC will be able to keep them running on all three routes.

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