Friday, December 16, 2016

Tory, TTC slam Bombardier, again

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Toronto Mayor John Tory Toronto Mayor John Tory

Bombardier Transportation’s trouble-plagued, behind-schedule contract with the Toronto Transit Commission for 204 new low-floor Flexity streetcars continues to be the public target of Toronto Mayor John Tory and TTC Board Chair Josh Colle.

According to the terms of the original 2009 contract, Bombardier was to have delivered 110 of the five-unit-articulated Low-Floor Light Rail Vehicles (LFLRVs)—replacements for the city’s aging UTDC-built Canadian Light Rail Vehicles (CLRVs) and Articulated Light Rail Vehicles (ALRVs)—by year-end 2016. The contract was revised in May 2016 to require 30 cars delivered by year’s end and the remainder as originally scheduled. To date, 27 have been delivered and the remaining three are enroute to Toronto, Bombardier spokesperson Marc-André Lefebvre told the Toronto Star. Qualified and tested units are operating mostly on the TTC’s 510-Spadina streetcar line.

Bombardier TTCThe May 2016 contract revision outlined a new schedule that would see Bombardier produce 76 cars in 2018 and 58 in the following year in order to meet the 2019 target. That works out to one vehicle every 3.3 days in 2018, and every 4.4 days in 2019. To help accomplish this, Bombardier transferred work on an order for similar Flexity LRVs for Metrolinx (the TTC is not part of Metrolinx) to its Kingston, Ont., plant, allowing it to add a second line in Thunder Bay for TTC’s vehicles.

Now, however, the TTC is openly questioning whether the revised schedule is realistic. TTC staff prepared an internal report for its Board warning that Bombardier is at risk of missing the 2019 deadline for delivering all 204 LFLRVs; the agency has always demanded that Bombardier complete the C$1.25 billion order by 2019 as stipulated in the original contract. The Toronto Star obtained this report, dated Dec. 20, 2016, and released it publicly on Wednesday, Dec. 14. It can be downloaded from the link below.

The day after TTC’s report went public, John Tory and Josh Colle sent a harshly worded open letter to Bombardier Transportation Americas Division President Benoit Brossoit expressing their “deep frustration” with the LFLRV contract. The letter accuses Bombardier of a “complete failure to perform” and also warns that the city could take legal action above and beyond the $50 million in liquidated damages—the maximum it can claim under the terms of the contract—it is already attempting to collect.

. “The delay of new streetcars has now reached a critical tipping point,” Tory and Colle said in the letter. “We are no longer able to sustain our current service levels as a result. . . . The magnitude of the Bombardier delay has meant customers waiting unreasonable amounts of time to board a streetcar and crowding beyond any acceptable standard. Bombardier delays have caused customers to wait increasingly long times in the cold and to arrive late to work or school.”

At its March 23, 2016 meeting, the TTC Board approved the overhaul of 30 CLRVs to compensate for LFLRV delivery delays. The agency has removed some CLRVs and ALRVs from service to overhaul them and extend their lives. This in turn, the TTC says, has forced it to redeploy buses to cover streetcar shortages, causing more crowding on the affected bus routes.

Some observers say that Tory’s and Colle’s claim that the contract delays are causing overcrowding and poor service is a politically motivated excuse. In a Twitter post, local transit advocate Steve Munro said the open letter was a “smokescreen” to mask the TTC’s “failure to budget for more service.” TTC’s preliminary 2017 budget contains no funding to increase bus and streetcar service, according to The Star.

Bombardier maintains it will meet TTC’s 2019 deadline. Spokesperson Lefebvre has reaffirmed the company’s commitment to that target. “We have full confidence that we’ve deployed all the necessary resources to deliver all 204 streetcars to the TTC by the end of 2019,” he told The Star, stressing that Bombardier would be able to ramp up production fast enough to manufacture the roughly 175 outstanding vehicles over the next three years. During the company’s Dec. 15 Investor Day Thursday, President and CEO Alain Bellemare said the company is “very confident that we will get close” to the deadline.








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