Despite repeated delays in the past, the TTC says it expects Bombardier to deliver the remaining 58 streetcars on its contract by the end of the year — but in the meantime a new report says the aging vehicles they’re meant to replace are causing delays on one of the busiest surface routes in the city.
“They’ve certainly promised us that, and we’re holding them to that,” said TTC spokesperson Stuart Green when asked if Bombardier will fulfil their obligation.
“They’ve dramatically changed their production by bringing in a new plant in Kingston, so right now they are producing streetcars for us at two locations, Thunder Bay and Kingston. That means we’re seeing a more steady delivery.”
This comes after the TTC settled a dispute with the company for missing delivery targets.
Currently, 146 of the new low-floor streetcars are in operation across the city. But the transit agency is still using dozens of older streetcars as it waits for more new ones to be delivered.
The aging fleet has led to mechanical issues and gaps in service.
Short turns see sharp increase on 501 Queen route
A new report being tabled at the TTC board meeting Wednesday afternoon says the 501 Queen streetcar route had 40 per cent of all short turns in March.
That’s 2,121 short turns compared to 931 the same time last year.
The TTC began deploying the new streetcars on the 501 Queen route in January, but the route is still served by “predominantly legacy streetcars right now,” Green said.
“They are approaching 40 years old. They weren’t meant to run this long.”
The report says the vehicles “experienced a high number of mechanical delays and disablements in March.”
It also states the increase in short turns can be attributed to the transitional phase being typically rocky:
“The different speed… of the two vehicle types inherently leads to more bunching and gapping on the route.”
Riders looking forward to change
Alan Hamilton takes the 501 Queen streetcar every day in his commute to work. He says he experiences a short turn once or twice a month.
“It sucks because they tell you there’s another streetcar right behind and sometimes there’s not one,” he said.
Sarah Singh feels his frustration.
She says she takes the streetcar two to three times a week and estimates “one out of every five trips gets short turned.”
“It’s just frustrating. I’m usually late for work at that point,” Singh told CBC Toronto.
The report states the problem will be greatly alleviated once the route fully transitions to the new street cars.
It says Queen between Humber Loop and Neville Park will have fully transitioned to the new low-floor streetcars by July or August. The remaining section from Long Branch Loop to Humber Loop will be completed by fall.
“Ideally, once all of those old street cars are out of the system, any mechanical problem will go away as well,” Green said.
Riders are hopeful this will mean far fewer short turns.
“In a big city like this, I’m always a bit skeptical,” Hamilton said.
“But we’ll see.”