Tram problems in Toronto

Next time, forget Bombardier and buy from Siemens or Alstom!

TTCai??i??s new streetcars plagued with manufacturing problems

CEO Andy Byford wants customers to know initial cars were slow to hit the street because they were badly built.

A TTC worker changes the track for a new model streetcar at the TTC Hillcrest Complex, where the cars are tested before hitting the street.

Marcus Oleniuk / Toronto Star Order this photo

A TTC worker changes the track for a new model streetcar at the TTC Hillcrest Complex, where the cars are tested before hitting the street.

By: Transportation reporter, Published on Tue May 12 2015

Laminate that wouldnai??i??t adhere to the parts, and under-frames so badly out of alignment with the walls Bombardier tried to rivet them together: The first vehicles in Torontoai??i??s new $1.2-billion streetcar fleet were so poorly manufactured, the TTC wouldnai??i??t accept them for fear they would break down on bumpy city streets, transit CEO Andy Byford has revealed.

The European design for the streetcar parts simply wasnai??i??t translating to the Mexican manufacturing facility that is supplying parts to the Thunder Bay assembly plant.

ai???Thunder Bay was finding when they went to attach the under-frame to the sidewalls they werenai??i??t square. You either accept that or try riveting it to create that square alignment. We rejected that. We donai??i??t want it riveted. We want it built properly, because rivets pop,ai??? Byford said.

There should have been about 50 of the new streetcars running on Toronto streets by now, according to the original schedule. But there are only five, with two more expected to come online shortly.

Bombardier spokesperson Marc-AndrAi?? Lefebvre said the company was aware of the manufacturing problems and has been working to fix them.

Video cameras instead of mirrors, air conditioning and touch-screen technology are some of the highlights in the cab of the new streetcars.

ai???I think Mr. Byfordai??i??s comments were obviously on items that we have already discussed with the TTC,ai??? he said. ai???Those are items in the past that we have already acknowledged.

ai???We took action to make sure that the vehicles we delivered to Toronto were at the highest quality

Conscious that customers are eager to see the new fully accessible, air-conditioned cars in service, Byford said he is now pushing to have the manufacturing schedule ramped up, first to two cars a month, then by fall to delivery of one every five days.

There should be 30 cars in Toronto by the end of the year, with the Harbourfront, Spadina and Bathurst lines fully furnished. He is adamant that Bombardier meet its 2019 end-date commitment for delivery of the entire 204-car order.

Lefebvre said the company was on track to meet its delivery targets.

Itai??i??s been a tricky balancing act between the desire to get the cars and the need to get them right.

ai???Iai??i??m not striving for absolute perfection, because equally customers want the new vehicles,ai??? said Byford, who plans to visit Thunder Bay with TTC chair Josh Colle in June.

There are still issues with loose screws, wiring and electrical connectors; the latter can only be tested once the streetcars are running on the track.

Bombardier is retooling its Mexican operation and the production line in Thunder Bay is getting new quality-assurance processes that catch problems before they get to Toronto. But Byford said heai??i??s made it plain the TTC is not a happy customer.

A new model streetcar is seen here at the TTC Hillcrest Complex.

Marcus Oleniuk/Toronto Star

A new model streetcar is seen here at the TTC Hillcrest Complex.

ai???Where a defect is not critical and can be rectified later, we do accept the vehicles. Thereai??i??s been some panels where the aesthetic appearance isnai??i??t perfect. Thatai??i??s not going to make the vehicle break down. Weai??i??ll allow that, on the written assurance that when thereai??i??s enough of them that vehicle will go back and get rectified,ai??? he said.

Byford said he was sharing the extent of the quality assurance issues so that TTC riders would understand why theyai??i??ve been waiting so long for new vehicles that were ordered in 2010.

ai???I wouldnai??i??t want them to think weai??i??re passive here. On the contrary, we are hammering Bombardier,ai??? he said, adding that he speaks to his counterpart there regularly and there are daily meetings between the manufacturer and the TTC.

TTC engineers are already helping Bombardier with the commissioning of the new vehicles. To leave Thunder Bay, the vehicles need a partial acceptance certificate (PAC). It is then shipped by train to the TTCai??i??s Hillcrest complex. TTC engineers then issue a final acceptance certificate (FAC). Until that happens, the TTC doesnai??i??t own the vehicle and no money changes hands.

ai???We will not FAC and therefore pay for, with Torontoniansai??i?? tax dollars ai??i?? we will not accept a sub-optimum vehicle,ai??? said Byford.

The cars now in service ai???have proved superbly reliable,ai??? he said. One of the two-stage wheelchair ramps has failed once and a Presto device was out of service for about two hours, but otherwise the vehicles have been problem-free.

The TTC has set a target of 35,000 kilometres between failures for the new cars, compared with about 7,000 kilometres on average between failures on the old fleet.

With files from Eric Andrew-Gee

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