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You may have heard of the “Canopener Bridge” in Durham, North Carolina — a railway span with 11 feet 8 inches of clearance that has attracted so many accidents, an enterprising individual set up a webcam and attracted a fan base.

Here in Kitchener, the Park Street underpass is just 11 feet, and Park Street has become one of the main alternates for getting between Kitchener and Waterloo now that King Street is closed for LRT construction.

The results have been predictable. See my photo above.

Somebody should set up a web cam.

Thu, Apr
28
2016

Daddy-Daughter Day

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One of our investments, recently, was in a two-year family membership at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto. A week ago, I took Nora into the city for a Daddy-Daughter day, and we roamed around the place.

We made a similar investment back when Michael and Rosemarie were still in Des Moines. The Iowa Science Centre uses a similar model, albeit smaller, and so is often good to take the kids in for a day of educational frolicking. The Ontario Science Centre is so much bigger that we always leave without seeing everything, which of course means that there’s more to see next time.

But, of course, there are exhibits we keep coming back to, again and again.

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So, after Bombardier promised about a month ago that it would deliver one new Flexity streetcar to the TTC in March and four in April, and after only one Flexity LRV arrived in April, I read this article from the CBC

Bombardier will only deliver 16 new streetcars to TTC this year

Company vows to boost production and delivery of new streetcars in contract it is way behind on

Bombardier Transportation vowed Monday it is taking steps to speed up delivery of new streetcars to the Toronto Transit Commission, but the company said it will only deliver a total of 16 of the vehicles this year.

The TTC currently has 17 of the new low-floor streetcars in service — three of which were delivered earlier this year. That means only 13 more streetcars will arrive by the end of 2016.

As you can well imagine, smoke issued from my ears.

Bombardier’s utter failure to deliver its contracted streetcars on time is a well known, near-national shame. This was probably Bombardier’s last chance to rebuild any credibility whatsoever. If it could have delivered five new streetcars by the end of this month, instead of two, then things would be looking up. Production would be shown to be ramping up, and the quality control issues that slowed deliveries to a crawl would clearly have been dealt with.

But, no. A big part of the problem, here, is that Bombardier has made so many promises that it hasn’t kept. And that’s got to hurt. Philadelphia is looking for its next generation of streetcar to replace its aging equipment. Bombardier has probably scotched its chances there.

There is, however, two nuggets of information that offer a small amount of hope that things might finally be changing.

One, the guy at the top of this mess is new. Benoit Brossoit recently took over as president of Bombardier Transportation Americas, so this is his problem to solve, now, and he has a blank slate on which to do it.

And, two, this paragraph:

The streetcars are assembled at Bombardier’s plant in Thunder Bay, Ont. The company said it will now use a plant in La Pocatière, Que., to provide components, such as underframes and cabs, that will go to Thunder Bay for final production.

Bombardier lost a bit on its “Buy Canadian” argument when it outsourced some of its component construction for the new streetcars to a plant in Mexico, and I’ve heard a number of reports that quality control issues at that Mexico plant are a large reason why streetcar deliveries from Thunder Bay are so slow. You can’t assemble something if the parts to it have been improperly made. By announcing a shift to a Quebec plant for components, Bombardier appears to be acknowledging that the problem is in its supply chain, and is replacing a portion of its supply chain.

It goes to show, when it comes to outsourcing your work in order to lower your costs, you sometimes get what you pay for.

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Especially for the kids after the dog sniffs Erin in the morning when she’s not wearing pants.

Spring has finally arrived, with some sunny days and some April showers. As I said before, we cleaned out the yard on Earth Day, and had about a dozen bags of yard waste out to be composted today. The place looks pretty good.

Erin’s writing shed landed her on the front page of our local newspaper’s Local section this morning, which is always nice to see. As for me, Icarus Down continues to gear up. I hope to be getting first pass pages soon, and more references to the novel are appearing online. It’s feeling more real by the second.

On the other writing front, there’s little to report on Transit Toronto beyond new photographs. I did write up a history of Spadina subway station, however.

And the column for the Kitchener Post, with a piece on my getting older, why amalgamation isn’t such a good idea for Waterloo Region, the importance of rural transit and what’s wrong with the Mount Pleasant community in Brampton.

Not much else to report here, other than I’m enjoying the warmer weather and Luna likes to walk.

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Today was Earth Day, and it was also a PD Day, so the kids stayed home from school.

We put them to work in the back yard, helping us clear up the winter’s bric-a-brac and prepare the place for spring.

We also had a lot of help from Michael and Rosemarie, all much appreciated.

The dog loved it. And the kids did to, as long as we let them climb trees.

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