Toronto is taking one step forward and two steps back in public transit development. Several weeks ago the Toronto Star wrote that the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) failed to receive a "single qualified bidder" for a $1.25 billion dollar contract to replace the staple streetcar fleet in Toronto. Bombardier, widely considered to be the front-runner for the project, initially declined comment, but later a spokesperson described the rejection of their bid as a "surprise".
Bombardier's major competitor is TRAM power, of England, who also placed a bid for the billion-dollar contract. However, the UK-based transit company was rejected, along with Bombardier, due to the TTC's assessment of the company as "commercially non-compliant".
The primary reason for the rejection of Bombardier's bid is the TTC's concern that their prototype streetcars will not be able to climb or corner some of the steep turns and hills that make up Toronto's streetcar grid. The Star reported today that TRAM power is preparing another bid, and that the company is playing down reports of a their units catching fire in testing.
It's in Toronto's interest to spend federal funding on urban infrastructure projects, but the TTC's righteous rejection of bids for a billion dollar contract will only delay, unnecessarily, what Torontonians need dearly--a fully functional and up to date public transit system.
Count on a lot of competition for the recently-announced $7.8B in provincial and federal funding between two provincial transit priorities, the TTC in Toronto as well as the new light-rail transit plan in Ottawa.