‘Enough excuses, we need streetcars’: TTC chair to Bombardier

WATCH ABOVE: In April 2009, Bombardier was awarded a contract that would see 73 new streetcars on the city streets by December. So far, there are only eight in operation. Erica Vella has the story.

TORONTO – The new streetcar fleet has been plagued with delays, with only eight cars currently in operation along Spadina and the Harbourfront, and the TTC board says Bombardier is to blame.

TTC Chair Josh Colle says he has been putting pressure on Bombardier and is tired of hearing excuses.

“Bombardier told us about a lot of delays in terms of logistics of parts that have to travel across the world from different plants to be assembled in Thunder Bay,” Colle said.

“They did have some labour issues, they’ve had some issues with some of the parts coming from their Mexico plant, which all sounds like fair reasons, but in the end to me, they are excuses.”

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READ MORE: TTC ‘put the pressure on Bombardier’ on new streetcar delivery

Bombardier was awarded the contract in April 2009, and promised 37 streetcars by December 2014.

On December 31, 2014 only three cars were delivered.

“My message to them has been pretty clear: enough excuses, we need streetcars,” Colle said.

Older model streetcars are being phased out in favour of the new Bombardier models, which have been plagued with delays. TTC/Handout

TTC CEO Andy Byford spoke with media on Monday saying beginning this fall, Bombardier is now promising one streetcar every seven days, until the end of the year.

“The schedule that they’ve signed up to – publicly signed up to – to ramp up their delivery to one new streetcar every seven days will start from this fall and we are going to hold them to that,” Byford said.

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The full order would see 204 low floor streetcars by 2019. Representatives from Bombardier did not respond to requests for comment.

“What’s more important to me is not the tail end of it – four, five years from now – it’s the front end now, so we can get routes converted to these new streetcars,” he said.

Although the delays have caused frustration among both riders and TTC officials, Colle says the streetcars have gotten rave reviews from those using them.

“Anyone who has ridden one of these new streetcars recognizes immediately, more light, more amenities, the air conditioning and fully accessible, what a step up it is from our existing legacy fleet,” he said.

If you have managed to catch a glimpse of the new streetcars, you may have noticed the bigger, slicker design.

“Feedback on the actual vehicles is tremendous,” Colle said.

“I will see people wait for a few older vehicles to pass just so they can get on the new ones because it’s just a more pleasant ride.”

Each streetcar will be equipped with a PRESTO station, in addition to offering a climate controlled ride and being fully accessible for riders requiring extra assistance.

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“These vehicles compared to our legacy fleet will make a much more customer friendly, efficient, quicker ride. We will get people in and off the cars in a much more speedy fashion,” Colle said.

“Once you ride on one you recognize why we need them and it’s going to help the system and the city so much.”

Graphic by Janet Cordahi.

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