Despite past issues, Tory and TTC CEO confident in future Bombardier procurement plan


Despite delivery delays and mechanical recalls, Toronto's mayor and the head of the Toronto Transit Commission say moving forward with Bombardier on a new deal for the city's transit fleet is the right thing to do. 

One of the top items in the TTC's latest procurement report is to purchase 13 new streetcars at $140 million, as part of the broader strategy to upgrade the fleet over the next six years for once the pandemic is over. 

"The hesitation that I had has been overcome by the hard work done by the TTC staff in working with Bombardier to answer the questions," Tory said Friday. "I was one who was quite outspoken in my criticism of Bombardier for the poor way in which they served us earlier on." 

The company was infamously slow in following through on the city's order of over 200 streetcars at a cost of $1 billion, barely meeting the deadline to deliver them at the end of last year. 

That was after the TTC explored other possible options, and following a recall of almost 70 streetcars two years ago because of a mechanical defect. 

But Tory noted the ultimate delivery of the previous order as a sign of improvement, as well as other reasons. 

"If we were to switch technology as it were and some of the other people that we did reach out to and ask them to express interest had, I think Bombardier was the only company that could actually deliver on the same technology that we have," he said. "But that kind of thing would lead to a delay in our ability to get these streetcars and put them on the track." 

Tory also said the deal would mean supporting Ontario and Canadian jobs. 

"When you look at everything and the commitments they have made to do better and the fact that there's 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," Tory said. 

Other parts of the plan include purchasing 600 new buses, split between hybrid and e-buses, as well as 80 new subway trains. 

The City is committing 40 per cent of the cost and Tory said he has already spoken with provincial and federal officials about the commitments they would need from them, with a goal of a reduced price for future vehicles should agreements be made now to support the purchase. 

TTC CEO Rick Leary also acknowledged past issues with the company. 

"We are negotiating with Bombardier now and have a discussion about holding them accountable," Leary said, while pointing out operators are extremely satisfied with the products themselves."

"The reliability of the vehicle has come a long way, we know there were challenges early on, but I'm very pleased with the direction it's going in, but they will be held accountable right up to the end of the delivery, should it be approved by the board."