Toronto — Streetcar Order Only Two-Thirds Funded
Rail Transit Online, June 2009
The TTC may have lost a high-stakes gamble when it announced a C$1.2-billion deal with Bombardier Transportation to purchase 204 new Flexity Outlook streetcars to replace 248 life-expired LRVs. Bombardier's offer had a June 27 expiration date but the TTC had only one-third of the financing locked in, the city of Toronto's share, when the contract was made public on Apr. 27.
The transit agency was counting on another third from the province and a similar contribution from the national government's stimulus fund. Ontario officials finally came through at virtually the last minute with a pledge of C$416 million at a June 18 news conference, but federal officials were conspicuously absent.
In a letter to Mayor David Miller and the city council, national Transport Minister John Baird
said the streetcars and a new carbarn "...did not meet the criteria and so could not be submitted" for stimulus funding. He went on to explain that projects must be completed by March 31, 2011 and the money spent building infrastructure in the city or town that seeks the grant.
Because the streetcars "...will not even be delivered until late 2012 at the earliest and the project will not be complete until 2018," Baird said the government cannot consider any contributions to the scheme even though Toronto's streetcars carry about 250,000 passengers each weekday. 'This fund was created to build public infrastructure, not modernize factories," he added, referring to Bombardier's Thunder Bay plant where the streetcars would be manufactured.
But Miller says he's undeterred and so far
has not canceled the order. 'We expect them to come through," he told the National Post. "It's too important to Canada and Ontario. And there's jobs and a complete project deliverable by March 2011, which is a prototype streetcar, or substantial completion of it, which is the criteria. I'm confident with goodwill and good partnership and an intent to work together, there's no reason we can't find a solution."