TORONTO — The president of Bombardier Transportation made his first appearance at Toronto’s transit commission board meeting on Tuesday and apologized for the latest problems with the streetcars his company delivered to the city.
“We understand and share the disappointment of the mayor, the board and the TTC riders. We truly apologize,” said Benoit Brossoit.
The transit authority said last week that the first 67 of 89 streetcars would be sent back for preventative repairs due to a welding issue.
Although the majority of streetcars will be sent back to Bombardier’s Welding Centre of Excellence in La Pocatiere, Que., Brossoit said the issue poses no safety risk to riders and staff members taking the TTC streetcars.
“Bombardier is Canadian and we are committed to Ontario,” said Brossoit, adding that all measures had been taken to fix this production issue.
To minimize the effect on service, only three or four cars will be repaired at a time. The shipping and repairs of the cars should take 19 weeks to be completed.
All 67 streetcars are scheduled to be fixed by 2022.
The problem was identified by Bombardier 18 months ago and involves work completed in Mexico.
Bombardier’s chief operating officer David Van der Wee told the board that the level of complexity of building the TTC streetcars was higher than expected. He assured the board that the root causes of the issue have been corrected and that the entire cost of the repairs will be covered by Bombardier.
“When narrowing down the issue to 67 cars, I want to highlight that we work with very conservative assumptions, always to be on the safe side of things,” he said.
Programs like this are complex and full of challenges, said Brossoit.
“Our commitment is to deliver on our promises, but, also to make it right when situation like this occur,” he said.
“Bombardier stands by its product. Always, no compromise,” he added.
The delays and recent production issues in the $1-billion order has caused frustration on the part of the board members, the TTC riders and the mayor.
TTC Chair Josh Colle said the streetcars were needed as soon as possible to serve passengers and replace the older ones.
“I strongly recommend you take a ride on some of those crowded, leaky, beasts of streetcars that are serving our passengers right now,” he told them.
TTC board member Rick Byers asked the president of Bombardier whether he should be trusted when telling the board that no more delays are expected.
Byers said it had been an “unbelievably frustrating experience for the people in this commission, but more importantly for the riders.”
“For us to have had to defend you, as I have had to do, it has been difficult,” he said.
Brossoit reassured the board that despite the repeated delays and recent production problems, the streetcars were his main focus and have been so since he started on the job.
He said the cars would be delivered on time.
“We are fully committed to the overall delivery of the 204 cars by the end of 2019. This means 77 more cars next year,” said Brossoit.