TTC to sue Bombardier over delayed streetcars

Officials at the Toronto Transit Commission have voted to sue Bombardier over the new streetcars it has been unable to deliver.

Management told to consult with other manufacturers

Bombardier informed the TTC this month it would not be able to deliver 23 new streetcars by the end of the year, as promised. (David Donnelly/CBC)

The Toronto Transit Commission board has voted to sue Bombardier over the new streetcars it has been unable to deliver. 

The commissioners voted unanimously to pursue legal action against the Montreal-based rail and aircraft manufacturer during a Wednesday afternoon meeting. 

The commission will also ask Bombardier's CEO to appear before the board to explain his company's inability to deliver.

At the end of the day I don't want the money. I want the streetcars— TTC CEO Andy Byford

TTC management, meanwhile, has been directed to consult with other companies that might be able to take over the job for Bombardier. 

TTC CEO Andy Byford expressed frustration Wednesday with the many delays and complications. 

"We've received schedule after schedule, we've been given assurance after assurance," Byford told reporters.

"The 10 streetcars we have in service are fabulous. The issue is we just want more of them."

"At the end of the day I don't want the money. I want the streetcars," he added. 

The TTC paid more than $1 billion for 204 state-of-the-art streetcars from Bombardier in 2009. Some 60 of them were supposed to be in service by now, but only 10 are currently on the rails. 

The company had vowed to deliver 23 new cars by the end of the year, but it backed away from that promise earlier this month, which prompted threats of legal action from the TTC.

The TTC board said at the time it was considering filing a $50 million claim.

The motion approved by commissioners on Wednesday did not specify an amount. It said the TTC will sue for damages "sustained ... relating to or arising from the schedule delays in the delivery of streetcars and by any other non-performance related issues." 

Bombardier, which produces the vehicles at its Thunder Bay, Ont. manufacturing plant, has been struggling to build the new streetcars. 

A strike and problems with parts manufactured at Bombardier's Mexican plant have slowed production. The company has also blamed the delays on changes to its production line, the intricacies of the vehicles, and on staffing changes.

Spokesman Marc Laforge said Wednesday the company had expected the lawsuit given the comments from TTC officials.

"Obviously not all the delays in this project have been caused by Bombardier and we will discuss this with our customer in due time," he said. 

With files from The Canadian Press