TTC plans to buy more streetcars from Bombardier despite issues with past order

The TTC is planning to purchase 13 more streetcars from Bombardier, according to a report released this morning, despite the fact that a previous order from the company was delayed countless times and a large portion of the new vehicles had to be sent back for repairs.

The Toronto Transit Commission released the TTC Fleet Procurement Strategy and Plan this morning, which is set to go before the board next Thursday, and it details all the vehicles the city plans to purchase and the funding needed to pay for them. 

If approved, the plan would put 600 more buses on Toronto streets starting in 2022, 70 more Wheel-Trans buses starting in 2022 and 13 more streetcars starting in 2023 with a plan to buy more.

“And it will start the work we need to do to buy 80 new subway trains for Line 2,” wrote Mayor John Tory of the plan on Twitter Thursday. 

“We are working hard to make sure our system can address the increased need for more reliable, efficient and safe transit in the future.”

But the agency’s choice to continue ordering streetcars from Bombardier may come as a surprise to some considering the comedy of errors that ensued that last time the TTC worked with the manufacturing company. 

The partnership resulted in close to a decade of production problems, missed deadlines and even a lawsuit against Bombardier for breaching the terms of its $1.2 billion contract for 204 new TTC streetcars before a new strategy was created in February of 2018 to help the company meet the revised contract deadline of Dec. 31, 2019.

Bombardier did eventually produce and deliver all 204 streetcars just shortly after the revised deadline, but it certainly wasn’t an easy road to get there.

At one point, the TTC worked to identify other potential streetcar  suppliers in light of issues with the Bombardier deal, but the time and money it would have required for one of the other companies to be able to manufacture vehicles fit for Toronto’s system were simply deemed not worth it.

So, if this plan is approved next week, Toronto will buy at least 13 more streetcars from Bombardier at an estimated cost of $140 million, to be delivered between 2023 and 2025. 

And, if the city can secure additional (and much-needed) funding from other levels of government, that order will increase to a total of 60 streetcars. 

“I want to thank Rick Leary for coming forward with this plan and thank the TTC commission for working with us to get this done over the last several months and for giving this report their positive consideration next week,” wrote Tory on Twitter this afternoon.

“I will in turn get on with my job which is to work with the other governments to secure their investments in these much needed transit initiatives. I know from their existing partnerships with us that they understand these investments will keep Toronto strong post-pandemic.”


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