TTC board to do business with other rail providers in light of Bombardier delays

The 514 Cherry streetcar is seen on June 18, 2016. Global News

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) board voted in favour of searching for an alternate supplier of streetcars should the city wish to purchase more cars beyond the current Bombardier contract.

Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong put forward the motion during Wednesday’s TTC board meeting recommending that the Commission conduct a search for companies that might be interested in bidding for contracts to supply Light Rapid Transit (LRT) Vehicles for Toronto.

In the current contract with Bombardier, the city is expecting delivery of 204 low-floor cars, ordered in 2009, to arrive by 2019 including  70 by the end of this year. The deal offers up an option to purchase another 60 cars at the same price per car as the original contract.

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However, with TTC CEO Andy Byford announcing that the latest delivery deadline from the aerospace giant will be “challenging”, the board decided it was in the best interest to look beyond the current supplier.

READ MORE: New TTC streetcars could be delayed again, missing 2019 deadline

“They (Bombardier) have confirmed with me that 70 is still the year-end target as per previous commitments but they have said to me that that figure is now challenging so I will keep you closely posted,” Byford said.

The issue with a new provider could be an increase in cost per car as Councillor and Board Member Joe Mihevc, who is in support of a “market sounding” for competitors, brought forth during the meeting.

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Byford, who estimated that a streetcar goes for $4.5 million per car, said staying with their current provider would eliminate start-up costs on a potential new contract with an alternate provider.

READ MORE: Increased technical failures on Toronto streetcars just ‘growing pains’: TTC

“We would get the new vehicles more cheaply because the current provider would not have to add in the start-up costs,” Byford told board members.

Bombardier is currently embroiled in two legal disputes with two Ontario-based transit agencies. In October of 2015, Toronto exercised its legal option to pursue $50 million in punitive damages for missing multiple delivery deadlines, while GO Train operators Metrolinx are appealing a ruling to have a $770-million contract to buy light-rail vehicles cancelled.

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