[Also explains insane push to LRT Purchases]
Shortly after assuming office, the new federal Liberal government made a poorly advised (emotional) decision to halt runway expansion at Toronto (Island Airport) Billy Bishop Airport. Two seemingly unrelated events slipped by without comment by the mainstream media.
Ultimately the decision, announced by newly installed transport Minister Marc Garneau. On November 15, 2015, Transport Minister Marc Garneau, officially announced that the “GoC (Government of Canada) position is the same as the LPC (Liberal Party of Canada campaign announcements) commitment, we will not re-open the tripartite agreement at YTZ (Billy Bishop).”
Amid the baffle-gaff and artfully coded Liberal announcement began the death toll for Canada’s premier aircraft producer, Bombardier. Bombardier was counting on the successful roll out of its new C Series Jets to turn around company fate.
The 400-series turbo prop, is the centre piece of the Porter and Air Canada Express fleets, is manufactured in Toronto at Bombardier’s Downsview plant. Material in Bombardier corporate brochure notes the C-Series alone has 10 Ontario-based suppliers. Air Canada and Porter were counting on approvals for necessary runway expansions at Billy Bishop Airport to enable the C-Series (new Turbo prop jets) to utilize that air strip. Cancellation of plans to construct new traffic runways at Bishop Airport set off a far reaching chain of events.
Almost immediately, Porter Airlines announced the quick cancellation of its $2.1 billion order for 30 jets from Bombardier. Therein, 7,000 aircraft manufacturing jobs (including 2,600 in Canada) were as good as gone.
Bombardier’s financial woes, instead of taking a turn for the better began a death watch.
The push to stop jet traffic at Bishop Airport had its hometown heroes, not the least of whom was newly elected Liberal MP Adam Vaughan, one of Trudeau’s “star candidates” who had hitched his campaign wagon to the fight against jet traffic at Bishop Airport. Central to the arguments raised by Mr. Vaughan and others was that jet traffic was far too noisy for Toronto ears. As for such concerns about the noise from the jet, it has tested as the quietest in its class according to aviation experts.
It is ironic and annoying that the over whelming majority of passengers for flights at Mississauga’s Pearson Airport (where jet traffic is permitted) are Toronto residents. Ironic that the same folks who opposed nosy jets at Billy Bishop Airport saw no problem in taking “noisy jets” out of Pearson Airport and inflicting alleged noise issues on residents of Brampton and Mississauga.
The Race to Save Bombardier
Substantive actions were taking place in Quebec where the provincial government had just invested $1 billion in Bombardier’s signature C-Series passenger jet. The caucus clash between Liberal Members of Parliament from Quebec and Liberal MPs from the Greater Toronto Area had to have been loud and lengthy although such things take place behind closed doors.
The Ontario help for Bombardier was a great deal more self serving. The Ontario Liberal government decided to plunge ahead with its Union-Pearson Express (the UPX)fiasco through its cadre of non-elected transportation experts at MetroLinx.
The Union Pearson Express uses Nippon Sharyo DMU trains. The fleet consists of 18 diesels multiple unit (DMU) cars, as four three-car and three two-car sets. On 1 March 2011, Metrolinx announced that it had chosen to buy 12 DMU cars (six two-car trains) from Nippon Sharyo at a cost of C$53 million, for the service. This was later expanded to 18 DMU cars (adding one car to each train) via an option order. This brought the cost to US$75 million. The DMUs were manufactured in Japan, assembled in Nippon Sharyo’s facility in Rochelle, Illinois, and towed by rail to Toronto, with the first train sets arriving on August 15, 2014. Canadian manufacturer, Bombardier , although quite capable of fulfilling the UPX requirements, did not get a whiff of the lucrative UPX fiasco .
Despite “sand bagged” rider projections used by MetroLinx to gain approvals for the $456 million UPX, the system seems to have become a white elephant. The system continues to make regular trips to Pearson every 15 minutes burning fuel and tax dollars while hauling cars that are 90% empty.
Albert Einstein’s Wisdom not Heeded
Einstein once said,” “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”. The MetroLinx solution to low ridership numbers is bad business. In fact, such bad business that such a solution, in the private sector would likely result in pink slips being handed out.
In its attempts to force social engineering changes, the big thinkers at MetroLinx decided that they could things work by slashing the rider cost per trip from $27.50 to $19.00. Fundamental economics apparently has no place in the mind of a civil servant. The operating cost for these 4 times per hour trains does not change in any of this. The ensuing $8.50 shortfall in per rider prices simply gets passed along to Ontario tax payers.
My attempts to point out that simply by augmenting their business model with courier freight arriving hourly at Pearson, the UPX could begin to see black ink. Of course, in the “consultative” world of MetroLinx, such suggestions fell on deaf ears.
Which brings us To Light Rail Transit
Light Rail Transit (LRT) contracts appear to have been a meaningless appeasement to LRT manufacturer (Bombardier). First, the GTA Federal Liberal Caucus nixed jet traffic at Billy Bishop Airport and thereby delivered a death blow to Bombardier’s (aircraft division). Then the Ontario Liberal caucus handed out a lucrative $75 million rail contract to Japan’s Nippon Sharyo Corporation.
The hyper-focus campaign by the Ontario Liberals to force LRT onto municipalities was very transparent. They could help Bombardier by downloading the financial costs involved onto municipal tax payers thus keeping it off the province’s books and under the radar. Much of the LRT stock had already been prematurely ordered and subsequently cancelled by Metro Toronto when (then ) Mayor Ford opted for subways in Scarborough.
What a web we tend to weave etc etc. A Liberal will always be a Liberal. No sense trying to understand or explain them.
Copyright Thunderbird Rising 2016
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