Toronto — Bombardier Wins Streetcar Contract
Rail Transit Online, April 2009
The Toronto Transit Commission on Apr. 27 selected the base model of Bombardier's Flexity Outlook for a new fleet of 204 streetcars to replace 248 life-expired Canadian Light Rail Vehicles and Articulated Light Rail Vehicles. The 100-percent low floor cars, to be assembled at Bombardier's plant in Thunder Bay, Ontario, will be customized for Toronto.
With a length of 98.4 ft. (30 meters), they will have almost double the capacity of the CLRVs. The contract will include options for up to 364 light rail versions that will equip the future
Transit City LRT system. The initial order is valued at C$1.3 billion including spare parts and other costs but if all options are exercised,
Bombardier's payday could top C$3 billion.
Funding for the new streetcars includes substantial contributions from the federal and provincial governments which have not yet been guaranteed: Bombardier's offer expires on June 27. But TTC officials are confident the money will come through prior to the deadline.
The deal specifies there must be at least 25 percent Canadian content but, said TTC Chairman Adam Giambrone, "We will be looking to negotiate with Bombardier for a higher Canadian content," adding that "we have to assume that there may be additional cost." LRV and streetcar versions of the Flexity have been sold to more than
30 European operators including Valencia in Spain (above), and to the Hiawatha light rail line in Minneapolis.
"Customers will find (them) more comfortable than the current fleet," Stephen Lam, TTC superintendent of light rail engineering, told the Toronto Star. He described them as having a "...modernistic and roomy interior design (and) seating arrangement (with) panoramic windows, full
accessibility and user-friendly features." Bombardier won out over Siemens Canada which offered its Combino Plus model, a design similar to the Flexity. But the Siemens bid just for the streetcars, excluding side costs, was C$1.53 billion compared with Bombardier's C$993 million, about 54 percent higher.
In addition, Siemens does not have a rail vehicle factory in Canada, which was seen as a disadvantage from the outset. Alstom had earlier indicated it would participate in the procurement but later dropped out.
Bombardier was also able to convince TTC engineers that its product could overcome technical problems that caused the agency to reject an earlier bid from the company. Those allegations included the inability to negotiate Toronto's tight turns and steep grades; Bombardier denied the charges and claimed it was re-submitting basically the same vehicle.
The TTC staff report said engineers are "... satisfied that Bombardier's proposed car will operate safely in Toronto." An aggressive delivery schedule calls for prototype testing to begin in 2011 and revenue service by 2012.
Among the features proposed for the new cars are air-conditioning, which the CLRVs
and ALRVs lack, and a computerized smart card-based fare collection system that will allow faster all-door boarding, reducing journey times. A new maintenance facility costing an
estimated C$345 million must be built for the larger vehicles which Giambrone suggested might be located in the city's port district.