Tag Archives: Thunder Bay

Toronto Mayoral candidate Rossi plans on stopping all TTC Light-Rail (Transit City) Expansion


TTC LRT

New Light-Rail for Toronto

Have we learned nothing from history and the reasons why there is a lack of good public transit options in the city of Toronto? What about jobs for the people of Thunder Bay? Again, with another knee-jerk reaction we may loose all we wanted in the city of Toronto and public transit by electing Rossi. Remember, if this is the attitude we took in the past, we would never have had the full Bloor-Danforth line, Spadina extension or top-end of the Yonge line (even our network of Streetcars that make the city). In other words, if you think transportation is bad now, what do you think it would be like in the future?

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Rocco RossiToronto mayoral candidate pledges to make waves at city hall by banning bike lanes on major arteries and possibly quashing light-rail plan.

When Rocco Rossi vowed to banish bike lanes from major streets, the suit-and-tie crowd at the Empire Club event erupted into its most enthusiastic applause yet for the first real speech of the 2010 mayor’s race.

The line demonstrated that Mr. Rossi knows whom he’s after: right-leaning suburban voters fed up with David Miller’s city hall.

Mr. Rossi is promising to halt all but one of the city’s planned light-rail lines until he can review the project’s finances; to replace the Toronto Transit Commission’s board of councillors with private-sector experts; to create a region-wide economic development corporation; to sell assets, including Toronto Hydro; and to outsource city work in a bid to decrease the power of unions.

“Make no mistake, last summer’s city workers strike showed just how weak the city has become in the face of its major unions and how utterly without a plan we are to correct this imbalance,” the former Liberal fundraiser and businessman told a packed room at the Royal York hotel. “As mayor I will bring us back into balance by pursuing outsourcing and managed competition for certain city services.”

Mr. Rossi’s speech was unusual for making concrete commitments early in the marathon campaign, leaving his competitors 10 months to savage his proposals. They didn’t waste time.

“I’m glad to see he’s throwing out 1,000 ideas and seeing what sticks,” scoffed Joe Pantalone, the deputy mayor who is running to replace his boss. “But this is not a carnival we’re talking about here. This is a city that’s complicated.”

Mr. Rossi drew the most fire for suggesting he might halt the Transit City plan, even temporarily.

In his speech, Mr. Rossi lamented the delays and cost overruns that plagued the construction of a streetcar right-of-way on St. Clair West, but it wasn’t until afterward that he expressed his concerns about Toronto’s plan to lay 120 kilometres of light rail on dedicated lanes.

“I think there’s some real problems that have been shown by what’s happened at St. Clair and I think we’d be foolish not to have a deep and long look at that,” he told reporters.

Asked whether that constituted a moratorium, he replied: “On anything that we can stop right now, yes.” Only one Transit City line, Sheppard East, has broken ground so far.

“Mr. Rossi’s suggestion that he would freeze all new transit projects until he has reviewed the city budget would not only put countless constructions jobs at risk, it reflects a troubling lack of understanding of the city’s finances,” a senior member of George Smitherman’s campaign said. “These projects are funded almost entirely by the province, sometimes with federal help.” Mr. Smitherman, the former deputy premier, is the race’s early front-runner.

The centre-right voters Mr. Rossi is hoping to attract likely would have voted for former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory.

But Mr. Rossi will have to run a campaign vastly different from Mr. Smitherman’s if he hopes to make the leap from virtual unknown to mayor. For now, he’s casting his lack of elected experience as an advantage.

“It’s been over a hundred years since we elected a mayor who wasn’t already in elected politics,” he told the crowd. “Maybe, just maybe, that’s part of the problem.”

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TTC streetcar deal to Alstom?


Alstom Trams and Streetcars for Toronto

Alstom Trams and Streetcars for Toronto

By Christina Blizzard

It’s a contract worth $3 billion in tax dollars and thousands of jobs for the provincial economy. The TTC’s bid to buy 204 low-floor streetcars is the largest public transit contract in the world right now. Yet it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the way it’s been negotiated is more like a soap opera than a massive public transit deal.

In what would be a major upset, it seems likely the deal will go to a French company, Alstom, and not to the Bombardier plant in Thunder Bay.

Last year, the TTC issued a request for proposal (RFP) from bidders. It’s a two-phase deal worth $1.4 billion in the first part and up to $3 billion by the time it is finished.

There were only three serious bids at the time — Siemens, the big German corporation, Bombardier, and Tram Power, a small British company whose bid, according to TTC Chair Adam Giambrone, was deemed “not commercially viable.”

In July, it was thought Bombardier was a shoo-in when Siemens abruptly withdrew from the bidding. Industry insiders were shocked when the TTC announced the Bombardier bid didn’t meet their technical requirements. Not just that, they made dire warnings that the Bombardier streetcars would derail, a claim Bombardier says is ridiculous.

In a July 26 press release Bombardier called for TTC commissioners to conduct a review of the decision after a team of Bombardier engineers and experts reviewed the TTC’s reasons for the disqualification and “found no acceptable rationale.”

The TTC threw the deal open for all to come and negotiate. Giambrone told me yesterday there are three finalists for the deal: Bombardier, Siemens and a last minute entry, Alstom, which built the Washington subway. Between the three companies they have 90% of the world public transit market.

All this comes at an embarrassing time for the provincial government. They recently instituted a 25% Canadian content regulation for public transit projects.

The TTC will make a mockery of that requirement if it awards the deal to an off-shore company at a time when the manufacturing sector in this province is in such dire straits. Thunder Bay has been particularly hard hit with the loss of jobs in the forestry sector.

“It is not the obligation of the TTC to do province-wide economic development,” Giambrone said in a telephone interview yesterday.

He pointed out the TTC pioneered the 25% Canadian content requirement even before the province mandated it.

“It was a realistic and a reasonable compromise that allowed us to have fair competition while at the same time ensuring that economic benefits come back to the Toronto area. The automobile industry is centred around the GTA so that will produce a lot of parts for it. There is also the possibility of assembly in Thunder Bay,” he said.

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