Toronto city staff recommend TTC buy up to 60 new streetcars from Bombardier

A TTC streetcar is seen on Spadina Avenue in this file photo. (Courtney Heels/CP24)

City staff are now recommending the TTC hammer out a contract to purchase up to 60 new streetcars from Bombardier about a year after the city's protracted battle with the company over delivery delays finally ended.

In a recent TTC report, which lays out a list of new buses, subway trains, and streetcars the transit agency will need to purchase in the coming years, staff recommend entering into a contract with Bombardier for an initial order of 13 new streetcars, at an estimated cost of $140 million, and negotiating fixed pricing for up to 47 more. The additional streetcar order, however, would be contingent on other levels of government coming to the table with funding.

The recommendation comes after repeated delivery delays and issues with the city’s first order with Bombardier to provide 204 new streetcars, which were ultimately delivered at the end of last year.

In 2009, the TTC entered into a $1.2 billion contract with the company to provide its new low-floor streetcars but Bombardier regularly fell behind on its delivery schedule, a situation that eventually prompted the city to sue the company.

“I will say that I was one that was quite outspoken in my criticism of Bombardier for the poor way in which they served us earlier on. There was a gradual trend to improvement in terms of how they delivered and manufactured the project. We are actually quite happy with the product,” Mayor John Tory said at a news conference on Friday.

“The hesitation that I had has been overcome by the hard work of the TTC staff and working with Bombardier to answer the questions.”

City staff have identified a number of problems in selecting another company to manufacture the new streetcars, including cost and delivering the new vehicles in a timely fashion.

While Bombardier indicated it could begin delivering the new streetcars in 2022, all other vendors suggested they would need about three years for design, prototype manufacturing, and testing.

“While schedule submissions varied widely, vendors who appeared to have the best understanding of TTC’s technical requirements estimated delivery of mass production vehicles to start in 2025, assuming contract award in Q1 of 2021 and minimal schedule contingency,” the report read.

“A contract change with Bombardier is the only option that is likely to ensure delivery of additional streetcars on time and that offers the lowest overall risk when considering technical scope requirements, schedule, and budget,” the report read.

Mayor John Tory said the fact that Bombardier is a Canadian company also played a role in the decision.

“Any chance you can get to support Canadian companies I think we should do that. We have an existing relationship with them,” Tory said.

“When you look at everything, and the commitments that they have made to do better, and the fact that there is reason to believe they can because they were doing better towards the end of the last set of streetcars, the recommendation is to go with them.”