Flexity Outlook (Toronto streetcar)

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Flexity Outlook
Flexity outlook 4403 heading south, 2014 08 31 (8) (14918534190).jpg
Flexity Outlook 4403 on route 510 Spadina
Manufacturer Bombardier Transportation
Built at
Family name Flexity
Replaced Canadian Light Rail Vehicle, Articulated Light Rail Vehicle
Constructed 2009–present
Entered service August 31, 2014[1]
Fleet numbers 4400 series
Capacity 70 (seats), 181 (standing), 251 total[2]
Operator(s) Toronto Transit Commission
Depot(s) Leslie Barns
Russell Carhouse
Roncesvalles Carhouse
Line(s) served Toronto streetcar system
Car body construction Stainless Steel
Train length 30.20 m (99 ft 1 in)[1]
Car length 28 m (91 ft 10 in)[1]
Width 2.54 m (8 ft 4 in)[1]
Height 3.84 m (12 ft 7 in)
Doors 4 (right side only)[1]
Articulated sections 5[1]
Maximum speed 70 km/h (43 mph)
Weight 48,200 kg (106,300 lb)
Electric system(s) 600 V DC[1] Overhead trolley wire[1]
Current collection method Trolley pole[1] and can convert to pantograph
Track gauge 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) TTC gauge[1]
For the generic model of the Flexity Outlook low-floor streetcar, see Flexity Outlook.

The Flexity Outlook is the newest model of streetcar operated by the Toronto Transit Commission. The TTC ordered 204 vehicles from Bombardier Transportation in 2009 and are being built in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.

The Flexity streetcars are operated on routes 509 Harbourfront, 510 Spadina and 514 Cherry. The cars are stored at Leslie Barns located at 1165 Lake Shore Boulevard East (Lake Shore Boulevard and Leslie Street). They will eventually replace the entire fleet of Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV) and Articulated Light Rail Vehicle (ALRV) streetcars, which have been in revenue service since the 1970s and 1980s, respectively.

The Flexity vehicles are the first low-floor, wheelchair accessible streetcars of the TTC. With a length of over 30 metres, they are the largest streetcars in the system. They have four sliding doors, automated audible and visual on-board next stop and external pre-boarding announcements, larger windows, air conditioning systems, 64 fixed face-to-face seats, six flip-down seats, and interior bike racks.[3][4]


A mockup of the first three sections of the new vehicle on public display in 2011

With the TTC's streetcar fleet nearing the end of its service life, the commission began looking for a manufacturer to build new streetcars. In mid-2009, the TTC announced that it had chosen the Bombardier Flexity Outlook to replace the existing CLRV and ALRV fleet on its streetcar network, most of which serves Toronto's downtown core.[5]

On June 26, 2009, the Toronto City Council approved funding for 204 new vehicles and signed the contract with Bombardier.[6] A partial mockup of the new streetcar was put on display at the Bathurst Hillcrest Complex for tours in November 2011. The first operating vehicle arrived in September 2012 and was unveiled to the public and media in November 2012.[7][8][9] Beginning in 2013, the new Flexity streetcars were tested on several routes, and the first two entered revenue service on August 31, 2014 on the 510 Spadina route.[10]


Flexity Outlook #4402

The vehicle is based on the Flexity Outlook product, but tailored to Toronto's needs. The vehicles use TTC's unique track gauge (4 ft 10 78 in/​1,495 mm) rather than standard gauge, and trolley poles using 600 V DC for power collection. Other design requirements such as the ability to handle tight turning radii and single-point switches,[11] climb steep hills and valleys, clearance, and ability to upgrade into a more modern pantograph current collection system were factored into the design. The Outlook is almost twice as long as the TTC's older streetcars, and has five articulated sections.[1]

Fare collection[edit]

The new Flexity streetcars are equipped with two fare vending and ticket validator machines located beside the middle doors

In the Flexity vehicles since the operator sits inside a closed cab and is not responsible for fare collection or providing transfers, a proof-of-payment (POP) system is used at all times.[12]

The POP system requires passengers to carry proof that they have paid their fares (such as a validated TTC ticket, paper transfer, pass or Presto card). There are two Fare and Transfer Vending Machines (FTVM) and TTC ticket validator machines where passengers can date/time stamp their tickets or obtain a paper POP transfer. These machines are situated beside the double-doors in the second and fourth modules of each car. The vehicles are also equipped with six Presto card readers, with one at each door and two at each of the double-doors.[13]

Audible warning signals[edit]

As with the CLRVs and ALRVs, the Flexity streetcars are equipped with a bell and a horn (which can be heard from both ends of the vehicle). Instead of the mechanical gongs used on older vehicles, the Flexity vehicles use an amplified digital recording of a gong.

Destination sign[edit]

The Flexity streetcars are the TTC's first streetcars to be outfitted with orange digital LED destination and run number signs rather than manually-operated roller blinds used on older vehicles. The destination signs are posted at the front, rear, and sides of the vehicle, which identify the route number, name, and destination. The Flexity streetcars also display two blue bullseye lights on the front to indicate that they are accessible vehicles.

Automated voice announcement system[edit]

As with all TTC vehicles, the Flexity streetcars have on-board automated audible/visual next stop announcements, which are broadcast over the vehicle's interior public address system and on overhead signs. They are the first TTC vehicles to be outfitted with external PA systems that announce the vehicle's route and destination, and it can be used for live operator-based public service announcements.


As the Flexity streetcars are the TTC's first low-floor streetcars, they are accessible for passengers using mobility devices. A low step is needed to board at any door, and an extendable loading ramp for users in wheelchairs or other mobility devices is located at the second set of doors of the vehicle. The passenger can signal the operator to deploy the ramp by pressing the blue accessibility button by the inside or outside of this door.

The ramp has two modes: if the streetcar stop is alongside a curb or raised platform, only a short portion is extended (the operator can open the ramp either from inside the driver booth or from the outside of the vehicle); if only street level is available, the operator will exit the vehicle and a further length of the ramp would extend to allow access at that level.


TTC Flexity streetcar on 509 Harbourfront line at Exhibition Loop

Pre-revenue service[edit]

The first vehicle arrived in Toronto on September 25, 2012 by rail from the Thunder Bay plant to Canadian Pacific Railway’s Lambton Yard near Runnymede Road and St. Clair Avenue West.[14][15]

It was loaded on a truck/trailer flatbed and arrived at Harvey Shop at the Hillcrest Complex a few days later. Car 4400 was the first of three test vehicles delivered for testing and technology verification. The carset has the same number as the wooden mockup car. The new vehicle was unveiled to the public at the TTC's Hillcrest complex during a media conference on November 15, 2012.[16][17]

On June 25, 2013, the Railway Age quoted TTC General Manager Andy Byford about the need for the TTC to order an additional 60 vehicles.[18]

Contract amendments reported on February 24, 2014 called for trolley pole current collection for part of the fleet (60 cars) with the later omission of trolley poles on the remaining 144 cars.[19] The first 60 cars will have both a pantograph and a trolley pole.

Revenue service[edit]

The Flexity streetcars entered service on August 31, 2014 on the 510 Spadina streetcar line. Other routes followed in 2015 with the new cars being added onto the 509 Harbourfront line on March 29, 2015. Since July 2015, the Flexity streetcars have been used sometimes on route 511 Bathurst during special events like the 2015 Pan American Games. The Flexity streetcars were also introduced on route 514 Cherry which began operations on June 19, 2016. [20][21][22][23][24] Prototype vehicles 4401 and 4402 had been undergoing almost a year of extensive testing in Toronto. That testing had triggered a change to the design of the loading ramps. The vehicles will only become TTC property when their ramps are retrofitted to the new design, and that change couldn't be made while the plant was on strike.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross said that the new vehicles would enter service on time, in spite of the strike, even if there was only one new vehicle ready for fare service.[23] Tess Kalinowski, the Toronto Star's transportation columnist, wrote that the Bombardier plan had been scheduled to roll out a new vehicle every three weeks, but that measures would be taken to roll out three new vehicles per month until production was back on schedule.[20]

In September 2014, a month after the rollout of fare service on the Spadina line, Kalinowski reported that riders of other routes were expressing jealousy and impatience over the delay before new vehicles were ready to serve their routes.[20]

Bombardier workers voted to accept a new contract on September 12, 2014.[25]

On September 29, 2014, Chris Bateman, writing in the Toronto Life magazine, described a new simulator that was being installed in the Hillcrest complex to train drivers on the Flexity vehicles.[26] It replaces an analogue trainer used to train drivers on the CLRVs. The system allows drivers to simulate navigating the TTC's entire streetcar routes, but only landmark buildings, including the CN Tower and El Mocambo, are rendered accurately. Most of the buildings the driver passes are generic.

Delivery problems[edit]

On December 19, 2014, Tess Kalinowski, reporting in the Toronto Star, wrote that Bombardier was behind schedule in delivering new vehicles.[27] She wrote that, by mid-December Bombardier should have delivered 43 vehicles, but had only delivered three. Seven new vehicles should have been delivered in 2013. She noted that TTC CEO Andy Byford had warned Bombardier that he would insist on Bombardier meet the final schedule of all vehicles in time for new streetcars to replace the old fleet by 2019, or he would impose the penalty clauses in the delivery contract. One additional vehicle was expected to be delivered before the end of the year.

Natalie Alcoba, writing in the National Post, reported on January 28, 2015, that the Leslie Barns facility for the new vehicles was expected to be almost empty, when it opened later in 2015, because Bombardier had fallen so far behind in delivery.[28]

On February 23, 2015, TTC Chair Josh Colle said Bombardier had agreed to deliver vehicles more frequently, and he expected a total of 30 vehicles to be delivered by the end of 2015.[29]

Colle expected that the 509 Harbourfront, 510 Spadina and 511 Bathurst routes would be using new vehicles by the end of the year. He said that the TTC already knew it would need to place an order for additional vehicles. The TTC can purchase an additional 60 vehicles at the current price, if the additional vehicles are ordered before the 60th vehicle is delivered. Colle said that the additional vehicles would not be ordered, and paid for, until Bombardier was close to delivering the 60th vehicle, as an incentive for Bombardier to keep to its delivery schedule.

According to TTC CEO Andy Byford, the first Flexity streetcars were so poorly manufactured, the TTC wouldn’t accept them for fear they would break down on bumpy city streets. At the Thunder Bay plant, when workers went to attach the under-frame to the sidewalls, they had found they were not square. To solve the problem, they wanted to rivet the two pieces together. The TTC rejected that solution, as according to Byford, rivets pop. There are still issues with loose screws, wiring and electrical connectors. To address these problems, Bombardier is retooling its Mexican operation (a facility formerly operated by Concarril in Sahagun City that supplied some problematic parts[citation needed]) and is implementing new quality-assurance processes at Thunder Bay.[30] Flexity streetcar 4408 was in Toronto by June 20, 2015.[9] Flexity streetcar 4409 went into service on August 11, 2015,[31] almost two months later.

In September 2015, the TTC announced that cars 4410 and 4411 went into service on September 8, 2015[32] and on September 28, 2015 respectively and that the delivery of car 4412 was expected in early October.[33][34]

By mid-October 2015, Bombardier admitted it had another production problem at its plant in Mexico, the same one responsible for faulty under-frames and sides on the new streetcars. The new problem is the "crimping of electrical connectors" causing a new production and delivery delay. To correct the crimping issue, Bombardier has to effectively check 20,000 wires per vehicle requiring about 13 to 16 extra shifts per vehicle. Bombardier hopes to make up for the delay in 2016, when it would produce one streetcar every five days.[35] The TTC reported that the delivery of car 4412 would be delayed until October 21, 2015; it was placed into service on November 10, 2015.[36]

Cars 4413, 4414, 4415, 4416 and 4417 went into service on December 4, 2015,[37] December 24, 2015,[38] January 14, 2016,[39] February 1, 2016 [40] and February 19, 2016 respectively.[41] This leaves Bombardier still two streetcars short of the promised 16 in service by the end of 2015.

Earlier welding problems at Bombardier's Mexican plant had an impact at the Thunder Bay plant. Thus, delivery of the seventeenth car (4418) in Toronto was to be delayed to March 29, 2016. Bombardier also had promised to deliver four more new streetcars in April with the commitment to have 54 streetcars running in Toronto by the end of 2016.[42] However, Bombardier backed off this promise, saying it would only deliver 16 new streetcars in 2016, that is, 13 more than had already been delivered by April 25, 2016, an average of less than two deliveries per month. Bombardier says it will use a second manufacturing plant in La Pocatière, Quebec, along with an additional assembly line in an unspecified location to help with production being completed in Thunder Bay. Bombardier hopes that the La Pocatière site will address the “dimensional issues with some parts and sub-assemblies” that delay delivery.[43] According to its revised plan, Bombardier will deliver 40 streetcars in 2017, 76 in 2018 and 57 in 2019 to complete the 204-car order.[44]

Legal action against Bombardier[edit]

On October 16, 2015, the TTC announced that it has asked its board to consider legal action against Bombardier. TTC staff is recommending that the TTC board “commence legal action, or make a claim allowed for already in the contract, of $50 million for late delivery” against Bombardier. Bombardier had committed to delivering 67 streetcars to the TTC by October 2015, but only 10 were in service at the time.[35][45]

On October 28, 2015, the TTC board voted in favour of a lawsuit against Bombardier "for at least $50 million to recoup lost costs", according to Chair Josh Colle, because of the company's failure to deliver the additional new streetcars.[46][47] TTC chief executive Andy Byford indicated that he was not interested in the money per se, and simply wants the streetcars. In a statement late that afternoon, Bombardier responded that it would not comment on the TTC's plan and would not offer “any speculation on potential impacts” on their operations.[48]


The Flexity streetcars are operated primarily on routes 509 Harbourfront, 510 Spadina and 514 Cherry. During special events at Exhibition Place such as the 2015 Pan American Games and the Canadian National Exhibition, the Flexity cars are also used on route 511 Bathurst.

Since January 3, 2016, route 510 Spadina has been operating using only the new Flexity streetcars in most cases, making it the first fully wheelchair accessible TTC streetcar line in the city.[49]

The new cars will serve additional routes as more are delivered.[50] The planned rollout schedule is listed below.


The two existing carhouses had been designed to service the older high-floor cars with most equipment located under the vehicle floor, as opposed to low-floor vehicles with equipment located on the roof. They also did not meet the sufficient capacity to store all of the 30-metre Flexity streetcars.

A new building was constructed at Roncesvalles Carhouse to service the new vehicles. On November 22, 2015, the TTC opened the Leslie Barns facility, at the corner of Leslie Street and Lake Shore Boulevard East, exclusively to service the new vehicles.[19]

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.[30]


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