Bombardier shipped unfinished streetcars to meet delivery deadline, TTC says

After years of problems fulfilling its contract to deliver 204 streetcars to Toronto, Bombardier shipped four of the new vehicles unfinished last December so the manufacturer could meet its 2016 delivery deadline, the TTC says.

Bombardier spokesperson says it was 'cosmetic interior work' only

Four streetcars were sent to the TTC's Leslie Barns Facility unfinished in December. (Toronto Transit Commission)

After years of problems fulfilling its contract to deliver 204 streetcars to Toronto, Bombardier shipped four of the new vehicles unfinished last December so the manufacturer could meet its 2016 delivery deadline, the TTC says.

But Marc-Andre Lefebvre, a spokesperson for Bombardier, says the cars were sent to the Leslie Street Barns in Toronto only to finish "cosmetic items" in the interior of the vehicles.

And Stuart Green, a spokesperson for the TTC, said Bombardier used their own staff, so the incident didn't cost the TTC anything extra.

"Anything that allowed us to get cars into service quicker we were on board with," said Green in an interview with CBC Toronto.

Stuart Green, a spokesperson for the TTC, says the TTC is open to 'creative solutions' that Bombardier may offer in the future. (Sue Goodspeed/CBC News)

"We see what Bombardier proposed for these four streetcars as something unique, and it allowed them to meet their target of 30 streetcars by the end of last year, and it allowed us to get the streetcars into service quicker, which is what we always want for our customers," Green said.

Lefebvre told CBC Toronto  that the decision to bring the cars down to Toronto from their manufacturing facility in Thunder Bay, Ont. early was meant to preempt the possibility of a bottleneck with the rail delivery system.

'We are transparent and credible'

Issues filling the streetcar deal with the TTC have been plaguing the manufacturer for years.

The city of Toronto awarded Bombardier the more than $1-billion contract for the streetcars in 2009, but since then, the company has repeatedly missed deadlines for delivery.

In October of 2015, the TTC board voted to sue the company over the production delays. 

In the past, Bombardier has blamed the delays on faulty parts from its supplier in Mexico, labour trouble, the intricate nature of the new streetcars and staff changes.

Back in July, TTC CEO Andy Byford told CBC that he would consider purchasing future vehicles from alternative companies.

This didn't seem to faze Lefebvre.

"Our relationship with the TTC is growing because we are transparent and credible and doing exactly what we said we would do," said Lefebvre.

New cars are 'safe and reliable,' TTC says

Earlier this year a staff report showed the new streetcars on the road were experiencing mechanical problems more often than expected.

However, Green insists the four cars had the same "rigorous final testing" that all the other streetcars have gone through. And, despite the change in delivery plan, he says the cars will be "safe and reliable."

Green also says the TTC is open to "creative solutions" that Bombardier may offer in the future.

Preparing for 'tough conversations'

Bombardier has a target to deliver 70 vehicles before the end of this year, but Lefebvre said they may have an issue that would not allow them to meet that target.

"It would be a question of days," Lefebvre insisted.

The first time Bombardier flagged the possible slowdown, Byford told reporters he would be preparing for some "tough conversations" if the delivery fell short.

Green said the TTC will allow deviations in the schedule from month to month as long as the 2019 delivery of a total of 204 cars is met.