After months and months of delays, the TTC says it is “very frustrated” to learn most of Toronto’s new streetcars will need to be sent back to Quebec for repairs.
According to an investigation published by the Toronto Star on Tuesday night, a serious welding defect could see the vehicles fail prematurely.
However, TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said they’ve been aware of the issue for nearly a year.
“This was something that Bombardier identified and informed staff about last fall,” Ross told Breakfast Television on Wednesday.
“We directed them to put a plan together to make these repairs, to get these cars fixed.”
This is yet another bump in the ongoing struggle to get the 204 new streetcars, ordered for the city in 2009, on the streets. The entire fleet was expected to be in place by the end of 2019 but so far only 89 are in service.
“Clearly this entire episode, which has had many chapters, one disappointment after another, is one big disappointment made up of a series of smaller disappointments. It doesn’t reflect well on them, it’s not satisfactory to us or to our customers who use the TTC,” said Mayor John Tory.
“Going forward, we’re going to have to see what that says about our ability to do business with this company in the future.”
“These are not safety critical issues, nevertheless we are very, very frustrated by all of this,” Ross said.
“We do not want streetcars taken out of service for, what amounts to, quality assurance issues in the manufacturing of the first 67 cars.”
Ross said the issue has since been rectified at the manufacturing plant and the issue is not being seen in the most recent streetcars coming from Bombardier.
Ross added that all 67 cars will not be taken out of service at one time to be repaired.
“You’ll see three, maybe four at the max, removed from service and shipped to Quebec for these repairs,” Ross said.
However, it could take as long as 19 weeks to repair each streetcar.
“They do take a long time because they basically have to strip the car down to get to the frames.”
“We’ve been dealt a really bad hand here, there’s no question about that,” added TTC Chair Coun. Josh Colle. “But we will ensure and make sure that service is where it should be for our customers, and that’s really out priority. Bombardier’s made it way harder for us to deliver on that, but we will deliver on that.”
Ross said that all of the repairs are expected to be completed by 2022.
“If we don’t do this work, if Bombardier don’t do this work, then we’ll start to see problems with the frames 10 (to) 15 years out,” he explained.
“They will then need, perhaps, more extensive repairs and they will not be covered by the warranties.”
Because the streetcars are still under warranty, the cost of repairs will be paid for by Bombardier.
Ross said that by sending only a few streetcars to be repaired at a time, it will ensure that the city still has enough streetcars on the road to meet route demands. Any shortages will be supplemented by buses.
“The impact on our customers will be minimal. As far as we’re concerned right now, you shouldn’t see any difference.”
The Executive Director of the TTCRiders advocacy group says even losing a few of the new streetcars at a time could have an impact on commuters.
“The new streetcars are accessible, so it’s really urgent that they’re delivered and fixed as soon as possible,” said Shelagh Pizey-Allen. “Of course, we experience delays and overcrowding on a daily basis, so we hope this doesn’t add to it.”
Ross said this won’t impact the delivery of new streetcars from Bombardier.