New Toronto streetcar to get first road test

Toronto city officials hope the first test run of a new, longer streetcar will show a smooth ride ahead for the 204 new vehicles scheduled to roll out next year.

First of 204 new, longer streetcars to be tested on open roads later this month

The Bombardier streetcars, shown in an artist's rendering, are scheduled for a full rollout next year. (Bombardier Transportation/Canadian Press)

Toronto city officials hope the first test run of a new, longer streetcar will show a smooth ride ahead for the 204 new vehicles scheduled to roll out next year.

The new streetcars, priced at $1.2 billion, have never been tested on city streets. 

The test model that's been delivered is still undergoing internal tests at a Toronto Transit Commission yard, and is scheduled to be tried on the road in the next two weeks. 

'Until you actually run the car on real streets, you don't know where that one turn that doesn't conform to what you've got on paper is going to be.'—Coun. Gord Perks

Coun. Paula Fletcher says she's excited and nervous to see them in action. Designed specifically for Toronto by Montreal-based Bombardier as part of a deal signed in 2009, Fletcher's worry is that a vehicle of this kind has never operated in open traffic anywhere in the world.

"Everyone's just waiting to see how well they're going to work on the current track," she said.

Longer than current double streetcars

Each of the vehicles will be 30-per-cent longer than the existing double-length streetcars.

"We have a lot of anomalies on our roads so I hope … that they'll be able to move around the city," Fletcher said.

Coun. Gord Perks is also anxious.

"Until you actually run the car on real streets, you don't know where that one turn that doesn't conform to what you've got on paper is going to be," he said.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross says he'd like to see the vehicle in action too, but is confident everything will go well.

"There are no curves, there are no hills, there are no loops, there are no switches, there are no pieces of track in Toronto that the streetcar is not designed and engineered to handle," he said.

The new streetcars will replace the current fleet of 248 streetcars purchased in the 1970s and 1980s.

According to the 2009 announcement, the new streetcars will be low-floor, quieter and come with air conditioning, and be able to carry almost twice as many people as the current models.