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 4400-4603
Capacity 70 (seats), 181 (standing), 251 total[2]
Operator(s) Toronto Transit Commission
Depot(s) Leslie Barns
Line(s) served Toronto streetcar system
Specifications
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
Minimum turning radius 11 metres (36.09 ft)[1]
Track gauge 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) TTC gauge[1]

The Flexity Outlook is the latest model in the rolling stock of the Toronto streetcar system owned by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). Based on the replica of the Flexity Outlook vehicles used in several European cities, the new streetcars were first ordered in 2009 and are built by Bombardier Transportation in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada with specific modifications for Toronto, such as unidirectional operation and the ability to operate on the Toronto gauge.

The first new streetcars were deployed for revenue service on route 510 Spadina in 2014, while later deliveries were introduced on routes 509 Harbourfront and 514 Cherry. They are stored at Leslie Barns, a maintenance and storage facility of the TTC completed in 2015. They will replace the existing fleet of streetcars, the iconic[citation needed] Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV) and Articulated Light Rail Vehicle (ALRV) streetcars which have been used since the 1970s and 1980s, respectively.

The Flexity Outlook is the first modern low-floor and wheelchair accessible streetcar used in the city. With a length of over 30 metres (98 ft), they are also the largest streetcars in the system. They have four sliding doors, air conditioning systems, seating of up to 70 passengers, and interior bicycle racks.[3][4] The new streetcars include an on-board fare machine and introduced the use of proof-of-payment (POP) system along with Presto card readers, both of which are expected to be implemented across the TTC.

Toronto's light rail lines (such as the Line 5 Eglinton, to open in 2021) will use the Flexity Freedom light rail vehicle which like the Flexity Outlook is also a low-floor, wheelchair accessible vehicle. The two models are not compatible for several reasons including track gauge.

History[edit]

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 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]

Specifications[edit]

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) where passengers pay their fares by coins, tokens or credit/debit cards, and obtain a paper POP transfer. Those using senior/student tickets must date/time stamp their ticket by inserting the ticket inside a separate "TTC Ticket Validator" box located beside the FTVM. 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]

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. They are also the first vehicles to have built-in electronic horns (similar to standard automobile car horns) fleet-wide upon delivery, while most of the CLRV and ALRV streetcars had their horns installed in the late 1990s.

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. Older vehicles only display the route number 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.

Accessibility[edit]

As the Flexity streetcars are the TTC's first low-floor streetcars, they are accessible for passengers using mobility devices. Only one step is needed to board at any door, and an extendable loading ramp for users in wheelchairs, strollers 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 wheelchair accessibility button by the inside or outside of this door.[11]

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.[11]

Training[edit]

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. 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, depicting landmark buildings, including the CN Tower and El Mocambo with most of the buildings along the simulated route being generic. The simulator has a full-scale Flexity cab with the windshield replaced by a curved computer graphics screen. The trainee in the cab can hear simulated street sounds. Connected to the simulator is a nearby trainer's station, from which a trainer can simulate problems for the trainee such as traffic interference, weather conditions and power outages. The simulator can track trainee errors.[14]

Delivery[edit]

TTC Flexity streetcar on 509 Harbourfront line at Exhibition Loop

Prototypes[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.[15][16]

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.[17][18]

The TTC added a railway siding with an unloading ramp at the Hillcrest Complex for the unloading of Flexity streetcars shipped by Bombardier. (The ramp was not finished in time for the arrival of 4400.) A CLRV streetcar is used as a tractor to pull a new Flexity off of the railway flatcar and down the ramp.[19]

Prototype vehicles 4401 and 4402 went undergoing almost a year of extensive testing in Toronto. That testing triggered a change to the design of the loading ramps. The vehicles would only become TTC property when their ramps are retrofitted to the new design.[20]

According to TTC CEO Andy Byford, the first Flexity streetcars were so poorly manufactured, the TTC would not 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 were still issues with loose screws, wiring and electrical connectors as of May 2015. To address these problems, Bombardier retooled its Mexican operation (a facility that had been operated by Concarril in Sahagun City, Hidalgo that supplied some problematic parts[citation needed]) and implemented new quality-assurance processes at Thunder Bay.[21]

Revenue vehicles[edit]

In July 2014, a labour strike started at the Bombardier Thunder Bay plant. TTC spokesman Brad Ross said that despite the strike, the new vehicles would enter service on time even if there was only one new vehicle ready for fare service.[22] (Bombardier workers voted to accept a new contract on September 12, 2014.[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.[24]

The Flexity streetcars 4400 and 4403 entered service on August 31, 2014 on the 510 Spadina streetcar line.[24][25][26][22][27] Car 4403 was delivered on May 31, 2014. After Bombardier modified the loading ramp module, prototype car 4400 was returned to the TTC on July 4, 2014 ready for revenue service.[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.[24]

Before putting a newly delivered Flexity streetcar into service, the TTC tests its components, performs 600 kilometres of test running on the street, and installs the Presto fare machines. If the testing goes well, the TTC puts the new streetcar into service.[28]

Delivery problems[edit]

On December 19, 2014, Tess Kalinowski, reporting in the Toronto Star, wrote that Bombardier was behind schedule in delivering new vehicles.[29] 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.[30]

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.[31] That goal would be achieved 1 year later at the end of 2016.[32] According to the original plan, Bombardier was to have delivered 73 Flexity streetcars by the end of 2015, [33] but had delivered only 15.[20]

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.[34] The previous delivery (4411) was on September 15, 2015; the next delivery (4412) would be on October 27, 2015.[20]

Earlier welding problems at Bombardier's Mexican plant in Sahagun City had an impact at the Thunder Bay plant.[35] Thus, delivery of the seventeenth car (4418) in Toronto was to be delayed to March 24, 2016. (The previous delivery was on February 10, 2016.)[20] 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.[35] 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.[36]

On September 28, 2016, TTC CEO Andy Byford said that there were 22 of the new streetcars in operation, and expressed doubts that Bombardier would be able to meet its promise of 30 total deliveries by the end of 2016.[37] However, Bombardier shipped the 30th vehicle on December 14,[32] which arrived in Toronto on December 21,[38] and went into service on December 31, 2016.[20] However, according to Bombardier's original delivery plan, there should have been 100 Flexity streetcars in Toronto at the end of 2016.[39]

In January 2017, the TTC claimed that delays in delivery of the new streetcars had resulted in both streetcar and bus shortages. Because the old streetcars require extra maintenance, only 170 of the 200 old streetcars could be put into service. This shortage lead to the replacement of streetcars by buses on routes 502 Downtowner, 503 Kingston Rd and 511 Bathurst, which in turn lead to a reduction of service on some bus routes.[39][40]

According to its revised plan issued in May 2016 and still in effect as of February 2017, Bombardier will deliver 40 streetcars in 2017, 76 in 2018 and 58 in 2019 to complete the 204-car order.[41][42]

Delivery summary[edit]

The following table shows Flexity streetcar deliveries by year.[20] It excludes deliveries of prototypes until after Bombardier has modified them to TTC requirements. The table summarizes by delivery date rather than the later in-service date.

Year Number
delivered
Total
Delivered
Streetcar Numbers
in order of delivery
Notes
2014 3 3 4400, 4403, 4404 After 4400 & 4403 went into service on August 31, Bombardier delivered only one more car (4404) in 2014.[20]
2015 12 15 4405, 4406, 4407, 4408, 4409, 4410, 4411, 4412, 4413, 4414, 4415, 4416 Average rate of delivery: 1/month.
2016 15 30[38] 4417, 4418, 4419, 4420, 4421, 4422, 4423, 4424, 4425, 4426, 4402, 4427, 4428, 4429, 4430 Bombardier modified prototype 4402 to TTC requirements and redelivered it on November 24, 2016.[20]
2017 3 33 4431, 4432, 4433 4433 delivered March 21, 2017.[28]

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.[34][43]

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.[44][45] 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.[46]

Order options[edit]

As early as June 2013, TTC CEO Andy Byford expressed the need for the TTC to order an additional 60 vehicles.[47] According to a 2015 TTC report, the extra cars would address rising streetcar demand due to residential growth downtown. The option for 60 additional cars would cost of $361 million. The TTC can purchase an additional 60 vehicles at the current price, if the additional vehicles are ordered before the 60th vehicle is delivered. In September 2016, the TTC Board rejected the recommendation citing the Bombardier Flexity delivery delays, the extra cost of keeping the old fleet running, and the possibility of buying buses at a lower price with federal funding. Byford said that using buses instead of streetcars was inefficient due to capacity differences. TTC Chair Josh Colle said not considering the option is part of "our ongoing dramas and pressures with Bombardier."[48]

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.[49] The first 60 cars will have both a pantograph and a trolley pole.

Rollout[edit]

The Flexity streetcars were first introduced on the 510 Spadina line on August 31, 2014[26] with a full conversion to Flexity cars since January 3, 2016, making it the first fully wheelchair accessible TTC streetcar line in the city.[50]

Flexity cars are currently serving the following routes:

Route Date
Introduced
510 Spadina August 31, 2014[26]
509 Harbourfront March 29, 2015[51]
514 Cherry June 19, 2016[52]

In order to support riders to the 2015 Pan American Games, the TTC temporarily deployed some Flexity streetcars on 511 Bathurst between July 10 and 26, 2015.[53]

According to the TTC, new deliveries in 2017 will be assigned to 509 Harbourfront and 514 Cherry until they are fully equipped with new cars; then the rollout will continue to 505 Dundas followed by 511 Bathurst. Since Bombardier does not plan to increase the rate of delivery until April 2017, TTC estimates that the rollout to 505 Dundas will start within the second quarter of 2017.[54]

(As of January 2017, the Flexity rollout schedule published on the TTC website indicated that routes 505 Dundas and 511 Bathurst should have been converted to the new streetcars in 2016. Thus, that schedule is obsolete, because at the end of 2016, those rollouts had not started due to manufacturing problems at Bombardier.)[55][56]

Maintenance[edit]

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.[49]

The TTC has set a target of 35,000 kilometres (22,000 mi) between failures for the new cars, compared with about 7,000 kilometres (4,300 mi) on average between failures on the old fleet.[21]

References[edit]

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  47. ^ Douglas John Bowen (June 25, 2013). "TTC mulls 60 more Bombardier Flexity streetcars". Railway Age. Retrieved June 26, 2013. Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) CEO Andy Byford said Monday the agency is urging Toronto to order 60 more Bombardier Flexity streetcars to bolster the 204 Flexity cars already on order. 
  48. ^ Ben Spurr (12 September 2016). "Amid Bombardier delays, TTC eyeing buses instead of streetcars". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2016-12-24. 
  49. ^ a b Steve Munro. "TTC Board Meeting Preview: February 24, 2014". Steve Munro. Archived from the original on 2015-03-04. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  50. ^ Steve Munro (4 December 2015). "TTC Service Changes Effective January 3, 2016". Retrieved 2015-12-06. 
  51. ^ "TTC to conduct track work at Spadina-College intersection". Toronto Transit Commission. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 2016-12-21. 509 Harbourfront route will accommodate the new, low-floor accessible streetcars, operating between Union Station and Exhibition Place. 
  52. ^ "TTC officially launches 514 Cherry streetcar service". Toronto Transit Commission. 17 June 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  53. ^ "TTC ready to welcome the world to the Pan Am Games". Toronto Transit Commission. 9 July 2015. Retrieved 2016-12-28. The 511 Bathurst route will see two of the TTC’s new low-floor streetcars deployed on the route from July 10-26. 
  54. ^ Steve Munro (14 January 2017). "TTC Service Changes Effective Sunday, February 12, 2017". Retrieved 15 January 2017. 
  55. ^ "New Streetcars". Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved 2017-02-02. Rollout Schedule - 509 Harbourfront: Now; 510 Spadina: Now; 514 Cherry: Now; 505 Dundas: 2016; 511 Bathurst: 2016; 501 Queen: 2016/2017; 504 King: 2017; 512 St Clair: 2018; 502 Downtowner: 2018; 503 Kingston Rd: 2019; 506 Carlton: 2019  The mention of route 514 suggests the TTC updated the rollout schedule circa June, 2016.
  56. ^ Oliver Moore (2014-11-29). "TTC set to put third new streetcar into service". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2014-11-29. 

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