Editorial | Bombardier has played Torontonians for fools on new streetcars https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2018/07/05/bombardier-has-played-torontonians-for-fools-on-new-streetcars.html
‘The last thing the TTC should do is get in any deeper with Bombardier. At this point nothing the company says can be believed. ‘
Bombardier has played Torontonians for fools on new streetcars
By STAR EDITORIAL BOARD https://www.thestar.com/authors.Star_Editorial_Board.html
Thu., July 5, 2018
Toronto’s transit riders and taxpayers are being taken for a ride by a gang of incompetents whose word is worth nothing.
The gang is called Bombardier Inc., and yet again it is making fools of all of us by failing to deliver properly working streetcars on time and in good condition.
Thanks to the diligent reporting of the Star’s Ben Spurr https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/07/03/most-new-ttc-streetcars-to-be-shipped-to-quebec-to-fix-welding-defect-bombardier-says.html, we learned this week that most of the brand-new streetcars the company has managed to deliver need lengthy repairs to correct a “serious welding defect.”
That will take them out of commission, says the company, for 19 weeks each, no doubt causing all sorts of inconvenience for transit riders. And it says they won’t all be fixed until 2022 — /four years /from now.
This comes on the heels of a string of broken promises and failures to deliver http://projects.thestar.com/bombardier-ttc/on the billion-dollar order that the Toronto Transit Commission placed with Bombardier for 204 new-generation Flexity streetcars.
By the end of last year the company was supposed to have delivered nearly 150 of the vehicles, but was able to come up with only 59.
Every time there was a delivery problem, Bombardier management blamed the mess on their predecessors and vowed with hand on heart to meet a revised schedule. And every time, the new bunch would boot the new schedule, and the cycle would repeat.
It’s a disgraceful record, one that former TTC CEO Andy Byford called “woeful” and Mayor John Tory said has been a “complete failure.”
The last thing the TTC should do is get in any deeper with Bombardier. At this point nothing the company says can be believed.
It may not be practically possible to free ourselves of the current contract for 204 new streetcars. TTC Chair Josh Colle says the agency doesn’t have the “luxury” of cutting ties with Bombardier and will have to tough it out for the next few years while the company repairs the existing fleet and delivers the rest of the order — whenever that is.
But on no account should the TTC consider turning to Bombardier for any additional streetcars.
After the current order is filled, the TTC says it will likely need another 60 vehicles, at a cost of $360 million, to take care of future growth in demand for transit.
If the TTC board does decide to go that route, it should make sure Bombardier is ruled out of the competition. It has broken trust with Torontonians and we would be even greater fools to rely on a company with such a terrible track record.
There might well be delays in getting suitable streetcars from another company. But if we have learned anything over the past few years, Bombardier’s promises to deliver on time are worth nothing. Either way, there will be delays.
In fact, Bombardier’s shocking performance may endanger the very future of streetcars in Toronto. Some municipal politicians are understandably so disappointed that they are talking about scaling back the streetcar system and using buses on some of the less-used routes.
And it would be no surprise if the new Ford government at Queen’s Park uses its influence and purse-strings to discourage streetcars. Certainly the administration of the late Mayor Rob Ford, in which now-premier Doug Ford was a major player, hated streetcars.
That would be the wrong response. Streetcars play a huge role in moving people around this city in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner. And they are, of course, one of the most visible and well-loved symbols of the city. It would be a real shame to use Bombardier’s incompetence as a stick to beat up on the very idea of streetcars.
This city needs to find a reliable partner that can deliver on what it promises. That partner, most decidedly, is not Bombardier.
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