New TTC Streetcar Bids May Be Limited to Bombardier


With the TTC’s announcement that the Bombardier bid was not technically compliant and the bid from TRAM Power was not commercially compliant, the Request for Proposal has been cancelled. At this time, the TTC is confident that this will not delay the procurement of new streetcars for the legacy network by more than four to six weeks. It remains to be seen how this will play out. For more details and comments, see Steve Munro’s website.

Original post follows:

Bids for the streetcar replacement contract, for 204 single-ended LRVs initially with double-ended Transit City LRVs to follow, are in and there are only two bidders, Bombardier and a small British manufacturer, TRAM Power.

For some reason, Siemens chose not to submit a bid about two weeks ago. With recent announcements of worldwide downsizing at Siemens, the need to start up some operations in Canada in order to meet the TTC’s requirement of 25% Canadian content may have resulted in this decision.

Further information on this can be found on the TTC’s Materials and Procurement website as well as in a Globe and Mail article by Matthew Campbell.

4 Responses to “New TTC Streetcar Bids May Be Limited to Bombardier”

  1. Mr. D. Says:

    Hi Calvin:-

    Yes, I must admit that the cost of purchasing loop sites was not on my radar initially, but now that you brought it up in response to my comment in Steve Munro’s site about my promoting single end for TC there were a number of things popped into my mind.

    One being that if property is so valuable then it should be no problem selling or renting the air rights over them. Renting would mean a steady source of revenue for our dear old TTC.

    Two, if Transit City is to be the system that it should be, then those loops will be for more than just streetcars, for dirty old diseasel buses must be turned, as they’re never double ended. This would mean that passengers would be better served if they didn’t have to venture out into the right of way to transfer. They’re transferring would be much more pleasant if done at a proper terminal, with covered walkways and amenities such as toidies and newspaper kiosks. Transit nodes in suburbia could also incorporate Kiss-and -Ride areas too, something that the TTC has made popular at suburban subway stations.

    Cal’s comment: Buses, when used for replacement service when needed, have the advantage that they can use side streets or even parking lots to turn around, reducing the need for loops. A major advantage of double-ended cars is that work can be done on one track while service uses the other track. This was often done in St. Louis when the Cross County branch was being connected to the existing system - in evenings service ran on a single track between to stations. Our subway system can only do this on the Sheppard line, where a newer signalling system allows bi-directional operation, but as older parts are upgraded it will become possible elsewhere.

    Three, your argument about turn around times in Melbourne is valid if as in Melbourne, one does not run two or three car trains. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe that Melbourne runs MU’ed trains, thus entering a pocket track, changing ends and clearing the crossover for the next car can indeed be less than a one minute operation, but add an extra car or two in the train, then the operator has to walk that much further and clearing the x-over takes that much longer.

    Cal’s comment: True, but the point was that terminal design can take into account the time needed. The example in Melbourne is rather extreme, with seven routes terminating at the station. A lower headway for a longer train can be accomodated with the same set up.

    Four, multiple pocket tracks add more track switches to every one, lots of non revenue track and that extra unnecessary expense for special work capital cost and maintenance I mentioned earlier. Winters would not be very delightful.

    One other response to my comments in Steve M’s site said that I was overlooking the possibility of the flexibility of off side doors for centre platform stations. Also something that I had not considered. If these are to be the norm, rather than the exception, then yes there should be equally as many doors on the off-side, but if they are not numerous then fewer doors could be installed as did Pittsburgh, Boston and Cleveland Shaker for their single end cars using left side platforms. My main arguement being to save capital costs yes, but more importantly, the ultimately greater in the long run, maintenance costs. Still with off-side doors in place, it would still be space saving to not have a second operators cab, thus greater payload for the same size streetcar, but again, more importantly, less capital and maintenence cost. The more items per vehicle that can go wrong, the greater probability that you can have a vehicle unavailable for service.

    Mr. D.

    Cal’s comment: Centre platform flexibility can add to your point about easier transfers. Sadly, it is looking like the TTC will not implement a single centre platform at the Agincourt GO Station which, in my opinion, would make this transfer between the LRT and GO far more useful.

    I am not familiar with Boston, but both Pittsburgh and Cleveland have LRVs with the same number of doors on each side. Pittsburgh has three bi-fold wide doors per side and one low level narrow bi-fold door to the right of each operator cab, though the doors on each side are not directly opposite the doors on the other side, so it may seem there is a difference. Cleveland has four wide bi-fold doors per side.

  2. Mr. D. Says:

    Hi Calvin:-

    Sorry that I didn’t expand on my three city example of off side doors, but I was referring to pre PCC Pittsburgh and PCC Cleveland and Boston, all single ended Cities by the time PCCs came on the scene.

    Your counterpoint about replacement buses having some degree of flexibility when turning around city blocks is valid, but I was referring to a permanent situation where the diseasels would be sharing a terminal with the streetcars. My point being that this kind of arrangement for transferring modes would take place at an off street location, highly preferable to all concerned, for safety and convenience reasons, versus an out in the windswept open of an intersection. Toidies for the public and the operators, kiosks and covered over transferring would all contribute to a desirable transfer point.

    It’s true that an off street terminal can also accommodate a double end service, but if one is buying the property anyways, why introduce a potential choke point and all of that extra maintenance. With double end cars, a loop at a terminal point could make life easier but it still introduces double the unnecessary capital and maintenance costs of each and every vehicle. If off-side doors are deemed mandatory because of centre platform stops, so be it, but as in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Boston, there were fewer off-side doors than on-side, thus minimizing their costs.

    And what of the operator having to change ends in all weather conditions. Melbourne’s climate is definitely much better than here, but with single cars, they don’t even have to leave the vehicle. But with a train, that function will be a necessity. Better to either not change ends at all, as the diseasel operator doesn’t, or do it in a partially or wholly covered over terminal environment.

    Having been in front line track and snow maintenance, I will stand by my position of not introducing unnecessary complexity into proven, vastly simpler, single end technology. The fewer the bits and pieces that can go wrong, the fewer the bits and pieces that will go wrong. Murphy’s laws run rampant on streetcar systems!!

    Mr. D.

    Cal’s comments: There are perfectly valid advantages to single-ended vehicles operating on loops, but the goals of a full LRT operation tends to side with the vehicles having the flexibility of double-ended operation.

    One thing I find funny about this is that though I am defending the idea of double-ended LRVs for Transit City, a couple of months ago I had a private email discussion with someone from a city of double-ended vehicles who wondered why the TTC was considering the purchase of single-ended vehicles for the city replacements and I was defending that.

    As for a permanent station shared by LRVs and buses, there’s no reason why such an arrangement could not be implemented with the planned layout. Instead of building ballasted tie tracks for Transit City median track ($25-30 million per kilometre), they are building paved medians to enable buses and emergency vehicles to use it ($40-45 million per kilometre). The extra cost for dual controls and doors on the vehicles is overshadowed by this extra cost. I’m not so sure the extra cost per vehicle is as great as one might think. Double the “components” (doors and controls) has its cost offset slightly by making the car’s design symmetrical. Some better quantity pricing for components makes for a small price break overall. At the same time, there is likely no similar reduction in maintenance costs for the dual equipment.

    When it comes to changing ends in the winter, cities to compare with include Minneapolis, Calgary, and Edmonton. They all run multiple unit, with Calgary often running 3-car trains of 24 metre cars and moving towards 4. Interestingly, Minneapolis tends to cut off the second car and run single-car trains in the evenings - something that would not surprise me for some Transit City routes, at least initially.

  3. Mr. D. Says:

    Hi Calvin:-

    A thought occurred to me that if it becomes really necessary to make the system double end (heaven forbid) that the cars could be single ended and set up in married pairs with each other as is done in the best of the world’s subway systems.

    For extra flexibility, a small fleet of wholly double end cars could be built for use off peak on lines requiring only single cars at the less dense times.

    Mr. D.

    Cal’s comment: The married pairs would only save the incremental cost of a second control stand, but would add a few extra seats, as the cars would still require doors on both sides.

    The flexibility of being able to run single-car trains during lighter times can be a significant cost savings, despite the TTC’s discontinuance of cutting subway trains down to 4-cars in the evenings a number of years ago. In considering low floor options, Dallas decided to go with low floor trailers (or “C-sections”) to be added to their fleet partly because of an expected annual operational savings of nearly a million dollars from reduced electrical consumption and wear and tear on pantographs and wiring. Cutting a car off for off-peak times cuts both these costs.

    My concern with having single-ended married pairs and double-ended single cars is that the whole train has to be switched out for the change-over. This could easily be done (at little cost) on a Sheppard run that is going all the way to Meadowvale, out where the new car house will be. Anywhere else, and two deadhead runs will be needed to do the change-over (one to bring out the new train, and one to take the old one back).

  4. Jarred Says:

    I think Bombardier would do a great job at it.