Let?s hope the TTC?s plan to buy new light rail vehicles doesn?t end up being a train wreck. We grade the top two contenders to replace our streetcars, currently on display at the CNE. The TTC?s sending out its specs next month with a final decision to be made in the new year.
Who will win
We're partial to the Siemens design, but it's gotta be Bombardier because of the thousands of manufacturing jobs it'll mean for plants in Kingston and Thunder Bay. Siemens is only committing to local management of the project and exploring "additional added value and expertise." Weirdly, we did notice TTC personnel helping out at the Bombardier exhibit. But we're assured that doesn't mean the fix is in. We're told that TTC employees are there only to get Torontonians to encourage the province to come through with the $1 billion for the new streetcars. Hmm.
What it's selling: Flexity
Price tag: $5 million
Overall look: Boxy locomotive, a far cry from the aerodynamic numbers Bombardier deploys in Europe.
Interior design: Utilitarian. It's good ol' Canuck function over form, right down to the pale floor tiles. The driver is locked away in an enclosed compartment in the front. No more cheerful good mornings from the TTC's finest.
Capacity: 246 passengers (depending on the model) with seating for 66.
Seating: Don't get too comfy with your broadsheet on the way into work in the morning.
Standing room: Not much to spare. For those who like getting up close and personal during peak hours, armpit factor is high.
Accessibility: It has designated areas for wheelchair users, but model on display at the Ex is only 70 per cent low-floor.
Extra eco marks for: Bike racks, although the TTC's specs will require less space for them, or perhaps none at all.
Compatability: 30-centimetre floor clearance makes it a monster in the snow.
Inside track: Siemens isn't promising jobs. Bombardier is.
What it's selling: Combino Plus
Price tag: The company's reluctant to say, but the $5 million range is a safe bet.
Overall look: Sleek Euro - bright, clean lines.
Interior design: Open concept - feels a bit like sitting in an Ikea kitchen.
Capacity: Up to 183 passengers (depending on the model) with seating for 70.
Seating: Roomy, ergonomic and arranged to encourage passenger interaction. Too cozy, perhaps, for cool Torontonians or if you happen to be wearing a winter coat during the cooler months.
Standing room: Lots of it, although faux leather handles for standing passengers may get a tad sticky on a hot summer's day.
Accessibility: 100 per cent low floor, four to six sets of double doors, ample grab bars, designated areas for wheelchair passengers.
Extra eco marks for: Advanced braking system that allows vehicle to return power to electrical supply lines as it brakes.
Compatability: If it can navigate the tight corners of European cities, T.O.'s sharp turns should be a breeze.
Inside track: The German company has been building trams for more than 125 years and was the first to introduce light rail vehicles in North America - in Edmonton in 1978.