Light Rail

TTC Selects Streetcar Supplier

By Jason Leach
Published April 24, 2009

The TTC has just chosen Bombardier as the supplier for its new streetcars and light rail vehicles.

In a move bound to have Thunder Bay residents cheering today, the TTC has chosen Montreal-based Bombardier for its billion-dolllar streetcar contract.

The TTC announced this morning that it has chosen Bombardier's Flexity Outlook car as the base model on which to customize a sleek, new Euro-style ride for Toronto.

This identical vehicle is on Hamilton's shortlist of preferred light rail vehicles for our LRT system, presuming we get the go-ahead this summer. The Siemens vehicle also pictured in the article is also on Hamilton's shortlist.

Rendering of new TTC tram (Image Credit: Toronto Star)
Rendering of new TTC tram (Image Credit: Toronto Star)

By 2012 you'll be able to head to TO and catch a preview of what to expect on Hamilton's streets, hopefully no more than two to three years later.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By LL (registered) - website | Posted April 25, 2009 at 00:26:55

Beautiful ride. Too bad Bombardier's a military contractor.

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By MattM (registered) | Posted April 25, 2009 at 22:44:05

Beautiful ride. Too bad Bombardier's a military contractor.

What does that have to do with anything? They've supplied the TTC with the last order of subway cars as well, which were top-notch quality and have served the TTC well for at least the past 10 years now. Also good to be supporting a Canadian company.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted April 26, 2009 at 09:55:04

You don't think it's wrong to profit from war and imperialism? In broad terms you don't see a problem with the military-industrial complex?

I'm not saying Hamilton shouldn't go with Bombardier. It's just something to think about. Maybe "down the line" when LRT is more common, municipalities could form a coalition to put some pressure on Bombardier to stop supplying the state with the means to wage war.

As an internationalist, I'm not as concerned with "buy Canadian" as I am with "buy union". Fortunately, that far down the manufacturing stream the workers are mostly organized, or at least well paid.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted April 27, 2009 at 08:54:00

"You don't think it's wrong to profit from war and imperialism? In broad terms you don't see a problem with the military-industrial complex? "


As someone who works in the Canadian aerospace industry let me tell you, if there is a "military industrial complex" in this country, Canadian aircraft manufacturers aren't allowed in. Nearly all of our current military aircraft have been purchased from other countries (i.e. the United States). This nation hasn't created an offencive military aircraft since the Arrow. Even the Canadian branches of American aerospace companies don't provide critical military parts. (Pratt and Whitney's plant in Mississauga makes engines for examples, except they don't make the crucial turbine or fan blades because the production of those are deemed too sensitive by the US government to be made outside the US.)

As for Bombardier, their military division was sold off 6 years ago to Spar Aerospace (now MDA Aerospace) as part of its recapitalization plan. Currently their only military services are converting their civilian planes to unarmed transports, trainers, and patrol craft, as well as providing flight training services to new pilots. I for one would love to see Bombardier trains through this city, the new ones the TTC ordered are light-years better than the old trains.

Now here comes a somewhat off topic rant, feel free to skip if you'd like...

Yes the aerospace industry has its dark side, but its also done a lot of good, (water bombers for forest fires, air mail, satellite communication, GPS, and also a huge boost to the environmental movement once regular people saw how small and fragile the planet looks from space), and unlike the auto industry, every generation of aircraft is more efficient than the last, even the largest modern planes practically sip fuel (on a per passenger basis) compared to the earliest models.

Bayer made poison gas for the Nazis, IBM sold them computers (or at least what passed for a computer at that time), does that mean we shouldn't use Aspirin or IBM products? Not to mention the fact that almost every modern car maker was making military products of some sort during the two world wars. I'm no war monger but I absolutely take exception to the statement that this nation profited from "war and imperialism", and the idea that we should pass on supporting a strong Canadian business for a product this city needs because they accept military contracts, especially when those contracts are limited to non-combatant roles.

Okay rant's done...

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By C'monnnn (anonymous) | Posted April 27, 2009 at 09:20:01

Great info, UrbanRenaissance. I had no idea of any of this info until now!
I hope LL, and anyone else with ignorant views towards Bombardier, will re-think their position.
GM shows commercials of their trucks driving around war barracks, does that mean ppl should stop buying GM (Hmm, maybe THAT'S what happened!?)

Bombardier is a great contributor to Canadian Identity (makes me feel proud to be a part of the International Aerospace community), and not to mention the Economy. When so many manufacturing industries are dying off, Bombardier seems to be shining on!

I wouldn't mind seeing a similar train rolling down Hamilton's streets... just maybe a lil more modern (but by the time 2014 rolls around, I'm sure their model plans will be 'modernized')

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By oktoberfest (anonymous) | Posted April 27, 2009 at 16:02:37

GE makes a shipload of weapons components for the US government. Should I stop buying lightbulbs from them?

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted April 27, 2009 at 23:19:34

Does Bombardier contract with the Canadian military or not? If so, then they're a military contractor. Is it really so "ignorant" of me to question the ethics of supporting such behaviour?

Indeed, Canada does not have its own self-contained military-industrial complex. Canadian aerospace companies are part of the US militiary-industrial complex. Is that supposed to be better?

The fact is the Canadian state has profited from war and imperialism. Canada's very origins are in empire - British and American. If nothing else, it has played an ancillary role to the imposition of world order by those two powers.

The Canadian state is currently occupying a foreign country against the will of its people. It played a decisive role in the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. It played an odious role in Haiti in 2004. It would have jumped on the Iraq bandwagon if it weren't for the biographical quirks of the prime minister. It's now pursuing "deep integration" with the US. A lot of folks from coast to coast are legitimately concerned about these developments.

Urbanrenaissance mentioned the two world wars. Patriotic myopia on all sides was a main cause of those conflicts. Since then, people have learned to to look a little deeper than reflexive flag hysteria. The state still goes to war, but now millions march in protest. Activists keep tabs on war industries. That's a good thing. Maybe it's one of the reasons Bombardier pulled out of heavy arms production.

I believe progressive municipalities can be an effective counter-balance to empire, especially if a lot of capitalist restructuring is going to be focused on cities (which it will be, if the ruling class has any brains). Some of the earliest institutional dissent to the Iraq war came from progressive city councils. Consumer ethics for institutional purchasing can be a powerful thing.

I never once said we should boycott Bombardier. People who work there obviously make some highly useful products. I just raised the issue.

For what it's worth, I think a more new-school looking streetcar would be right for the Hammer.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 27, 2009 at 23:59:53

So if a corporation manufactures death and destruction along with consumer producst, we are suppose to ignore tha bad ones because of the goods ones?

Of course for many, it is ok to make profits on deaths and suffering of so many.

Where is corporate social responsibility? With all the bright ones one there, do you not think it better to make things that are good opposed to things that cause death and destruction?

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By Bombadeer (anonymous) | Posted April 28, 2009 at 00:03:36

Grassroots wrote "do you not think it better to make things that are good opposed to things that cause death and destruction?" Yes which is why we should encourage companies like Bombardier to sell more trains and less military equipment.

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By stuff (anonymous) | Posted April 28, 2009 at 00:07:07

So LL, are you saying that Siemens is clean by your standards?

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By JonC (registered) | Posted April 28, 2009 at 07:50:25

I would like to see the list of companies that produce street cars, anywhere in the world, that aren't part of the complex.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted April 28, 2009 at 09:09:05

grassroots said: "Of course for many, it is ok to make profits on deaths and suffering of so many."

Death and suffering? I guess we aren't talking about Bombardier anymore, because the only suffering they've caused is from the cramped seating arrangements on their regional jets. I realize LL never said we should boycott Bombardier, but given the comments it just seems that is how some feel, so I'd like to respond. Yes, Bombardier does have military contracts, but these planes are search and rescue craft, transports, patrol craft for drug smugglers and the like, and single engine jets to train pilots. If they were making cruise missiles or cluster bombs like Lockheed or Boeing then I'd agree with you, but boycotting Bombardier is like boycotting an accountant because he does the taxes for a soldier.

grassroots said: "So if a corporation manufactures death and destruction along with consumer producst, we are suppose to ignore tha bad ones because of the goods ones?"

No of course not, but we also can't go the other way and reject current good ones because of the bad done in the past. There are already plenty of examples in this thread of products we all use from companies who at some point made weapons or provided services to the military. You have to look at the balance of what the company has done in the past and what they are doing now to help the present and future and decide with your wallets.

And just for everyone's morning dose of irony, without the military we wouldn't even be having this conversation. It was the US military agency DARPA that originally conceived and created DARPAnet which directly lead to the modern internet.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 28, 2009 at 09:16:35

For better or for worse, the military industrial complex is the industrial complex. The government-based military aerospace, computing and networking R&D during WWII and into the postwar period spawned the rolling civilian industrial behemoths that have driven our economy ever since: commercial airlines, mainframe computing, personal computing, networking and so on.

The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) invented a distributed packet switching data network called ARPANet through the 1960s and '70s. It was integrated with the publicly funded universities (chiefly Stanford and UCLA) whose research teams developed the various protocols that undergirded ARPANet - TCP/IP, FTP, email, etc. - and gradually took shape and expanded to a critical mass of university and government connections long before any commercial internet service providers took notice.

I just don't know what to make of the fact that this discussion about the role of military contractors in industrial development is possible in its current form only because of past military R&D investments in developing the network on which we're having it. :/

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 28, 2009 at 09:38:10

^Oops, I just noticed that UrbanRenaissance made the same point about ARPANet a few minutes before me. Sorry for the dupe.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted April 28, 2009 at 10:13:24

No worries about the dupe Ryan, you corrected my typo anyway. The first computer network was in fact the ARPAnet, not DARPAnet.

You also make an excellent point about the spin off products which came from purely military research. We haven't been able to beat all our swords to ploughshares but if we can go from the military controlled ARPAnet to the (relatively) liberal and open internet we know today in a generation, then I have high hopes for the current research into tissue regeneration and mechanical augmentation. Though the former opens an even bigger ethical can of worms, and one hopes the civilian oversight is rigorous and public.

As for the later, has anyone seen the unfortunately named "HAL 5" suit from the (even more unfortunately named) Cyberdine company in Japan? Its a powered exo-suit to help people move heavy objects for longer periods.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 08:59:27

Urban Renaissance: You vote with your wallet, I will vote with mine. Any corporation that has made money on the suffering of other humans, is not a good corporate citizen , plain and simple in my view. However, those the capitalists, the money men, could careless who dies or gets maimed in their path of profit making.

Many of the multinational corporations made their money supporting both sides in the two world wars, they contributed to the death and destruction of millions of people, yet today, we are suppose to overlook this? Where is your head man? How can you justify this?

To be honest it really is a sad world we live in, where profits override the rights of humans.

There are so many good people who want to do the right thing but in our world it is just unspeakable that the evil ones rule the world.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 10:40:42

At first I wasn't going to comment on this, since its starting to venture way off topic, but since you directly called my morality into question, I'm going to respond.

First off, who said anything about me supporting multinationals who "...made their money supporting both sides in the two world wars...", and who "...contributed to the death and destruction of millions of people..."?

What I said was that one should look at the sum total of the good and bad done by those companies,decide for yourself, and then buy accordingly. If a company committed the kinds off actions you describe then the good products they sold would have to be pretty damn good (or at least pretty damn necessary) before I'd buy them.

The problem is, that's often easier said than done. If you're in the hospital dying from an infection, you don't usually have the opportunity to say "No doctor, I'd rather you use Brand X's antibiotics, not Brand Y's". Not to mention the problem of conglomerates, Brand A makes missiles, Brand B makes lifesaving cancer drugs but both are owned by the same company, would you use Brand B's cancer drug?. This is of course assuming the consumer is adequately informed on the options and the companies, though realistically the public isn't, either through, bad news reporting, PR spin or simple ignorance of the facts.

You also talk a lot about not supporting the "bad guys" (multinationals, the military), but where do you draw the line? Are the farmers who's farms supply the army guilty too? Should Hitler's house painter have been tried at Nuremberg? How about the old man who as a kid in the 40's collected cans to be recycled into tanks or artillery shells? Hell, by your logic everything made by companies around during the 2 world wars shouldn't be used since those companies directly or indirectly helped their nation's war effort. (I use those wars as the example since they were "total wars" where the entire home front mobilized for the war effort.)

To get back on topic, Bombardier was a company on the brink of bankruptcy before it recapitalized and got rid of its military division, it's now one of the more successful small plane manufacturers in the world, building solely civilian planes, trains, snowmobiles and personal water craft. They're a perfect example of what you're talking about, why shouldn't we support that?

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 12:41:19

Great looking vehicle. Can't wait to see it on the street!

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By Curt (anonymous) | Posted December 23, 2009 at 17:36:48

I think it is a great idea to buy from Bombardier, they made the LRC engines and cars, which were the succesor to the CN MLW/UA Turbo Train. And being in Toronto in August on my honeymoon and was very impressed by TTC's transit network system. The CLRV/ALRV's are built in the 1970's and need to eventually be replaced, and if the replacement looks anything like that one in the picture above, then i commend it! As for the military question. I do not support our troops or military, as a pacifist Anglican, but i don't think Bombardier makes any military vehicles anymore, and to have more jobs stay in Canada, i am for that!

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted May 27, 2011 at 08:45:04

Transit item in today's Star:

Reporters were invited for a preview ride between Davisville and Union Station Thursday, months after the new subways were unveiled in October. Commuters won’t get to ride the first new trains until at least June, and possibly later this summer.

That’s when the first of the 70 Rockets, still in testing, will be brought onto the Yonge-University line. Built by Bombardier in Thunder Bay for about $1 billion, they will continue to arrive through 2013.

There are four already in the city and another en route, said TTC spokesman Brad Ross. The existing T1 cars will gradually move to the Bloor-Danforth line and the old H series subways will be retired.

In the meantime, the public is invited to look at a Rocket on the platform at Davisville station on Sunday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

When they finally go into service, you can expect some of the usual lurching and brake noise. But like your TV and computer, subways have come a long way since the T1 cars were built about 15 years ago.

Those improvements should translate into a better ride.

“The systems are much quieter and the electronics are much smoother,” said Mini Gupta, a senior electrical engineer with the TTC.

If you’re particularly tall or petite, you’re also going to notice the absence of those poles in the middle of the train.

Gupta, who claims she’s 5 feet tall, stretched to reach the overhead grab bars. Toronto Star columnist Royson James, who has about a foot on her and an even taller son, fears that the HVAC box that juts down from the ceiling at the front of the cars could be hazardous.

The Rocket’s space and updated features will improve rider comfort on the overcrowded Yonge line, said Ross.

But a key advantage won’t come until 2015, when the TTC’s new computerized signalling system will be complete. That will allow trains to run about 90 seconds apart, compared to a little over two minutes now — giving the Yonge line up to 30 per cent more capacity overall.

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