Friday, December 29, 2006

A change of tune?

hmm - last year I put together a financial analysis of the option of replacing all of the TTC CLRVs (smaller streetcars) with new vehicles - in comparison with the standing plan to refurbish half (or more) of these vehicles. This was based on publicly available figures from news sources, the city library etc. The analysis showed that it was financially beneficial to replace rather than refurbish.

Although I'm not a proponent of continuing streetcar services in Toronto (period, full-stop), if these are to be retained, spending any more money on the existing fleet would be madness in its most complete form - both from a long term cost and service perspective.

As of this year, and up until the civic election, the decision still held firm to proceed with the reburbishment. Now apparently, this decision may be revisited. Per a Canadian Press story, the TTC may look to replace all 195 vehicles:

A streetcar refurbishing contract that Thunder Bay's Bombardier plant appeared to have won is being sent back to the budget table by the Toronto Transit Commission.

Last summer, the plant was the lone bidder on a $110-million contract to refurbish 96 older streetcars and then-TTC chairman Howard Moscoe predicted the contract would be awarded by the fall.

However, new TTC chairman Adam Giambrone said yesterday the commission is now looking at replacing the entire 195-streetcar fleet.

Refurbishing the fleet would carry an estimated cost of $245 million compared to more than double that to replace it, at the going rate of $3 million per car.

I wouldn't take any stock in the $3 million a car figure. The going rate is for reasonably standard equipment. To run on the existing track network, such equipment is going to need extensive (and expensive) customization. $4 million a car is a more likely figure. I believe I used the $4 million figure in my analysis.

A new car design will also require new maintenance/storage facility(ies). I'm not sure why that is, but this point at least is, not under dispute.

It's nice to see that one citizen's analysis (despite being poo-pooed by at least a streetcar booster) might well have made an impact.

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