Buy Canadian - If it worksYesterday, Alstom decided to leave the bidding process, leaving Bombardier and Siemens as the remaining firms vying for the next generation streetcar contract. These vehicles will be longer to carry more passengers, will be accessible to those with mobility devices, and will have all-door boarding to reduce the time at stops and help keep service on schedule.
In these trying economic times it makes sense to me to award the contract to Bombardier (lets face it, either way there will be a significant minority of work done off-shore. But, Bombardier at least has their global headquarters in Canada), and A Toronto Star article today reports on Bombardier plant workers begging for more work. In the first round of bidding, Bombardier's product was disqualified because they were not able to handle the tight curves of the system, primary at intersections. It is completely impractical to broaden these curves, as this could result in streetcars running onto the sidewalk or even requiring building demolitions. Awarding the contract to them would be irresponsible unless the vehicle they are proposing now is more capable.
A recommendation is expected to go to council on April 27th, and while I hope that we can use this contract to stimulate the economy within the province, it's pointless if the product we'll be receiving has a limited use.
In other news, the TTC is moving forward with their plan to eliminate free parking for metropass users at certain commuter parking lots. It's slightly unclear how people will respond to this measure, but I see it as being a factor of location. Drivers from the 416 will likely switch to feeder bus services, which are fairly frequent and will result in no additional cost. Those who must drive will have to make a cost-benefit analysis between parking at their workplace or parking at a commuter parking lot. In the 905, that same cost-benefit analysis will take place, but the feeder bus options are very limited due to poor coverage and poor frequencies on many routes compared to the 905. GO might become the preferred mode for some, but unless we improve bus service coverage in the 905, this move will be a net loss for our transit network.