Bombardier Transportation and Brussels Public Transport Company STIB (Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles) are teaming up with the City of Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada) to give North America a taste of European light rail technology. The partners continue preparations for a unique streetcar demonstration project that will help the city provide public transit service during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Bombardier and STIB officials shared details of the project during the 58th UITP World Congress and Mobility & City Transport Exhibition in Vienna, Austria this week. Speaking from the UITP event, Alain Flausch, Chief Executive Officer of STIB, commented: “We are very pleased to contribute to this initiative with our beautifully-designed, award-winning BOMBARDIER FLEXITY trams. It allows us to share with both residents of Vancouver and visitors to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games our enthusiasm about the high level of comfort, style and performance the riders of our Brussels’ Public Transport service enjoy every day.”
STIB and Bombardier are collaborating with Vancouver to ship two of STIB’s 100% low-floor FLEXITY trams to the city by sea in late 2009. The FLEXITY product platform represents the leading edge in light rail technology and moves thousands of people each day in Brussels and other cities across Europe. In Vancouver, the vehicles will operate seven days a week on the demonstration line between January 21 and March 21, 2010 near Vancouver’s Olympic and Paralympic Village. The streetcars will run on an existing track the city is now upgrading to accommodate both the project and a possible future streetcar line. The line will be operated and maintained by Bombardier as a unique service for the city.
“European cities have enjoyed the benefits of modern streetcars for decades,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Green transportation options – including streetcars – need to be part of our urban transportation solutions in Vancouver. We’re delighted to be working with Bombardier and Brussels on this exciting streetcar demonstration project.”
A renaissance in North America
For Bombardier, the project complements an ongoing commitment to introduce 100% light rail low-floor technology to new markets. North America is a good example where increasing urbanization and congestion have many cities considering modern streetcar or tram technology as an important component of public transit planning and sustainable transportation. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, streetcars were an important part of urban public transit in both Canada and the United States. Ridership and presence declined in following years with the emergence of automobiles and population migration to the suburbs. Eventually, most streetcar systems were shutdown and dismantled.
Population growth in North American urban centres has been increasing over the past decade, and many cities are once again focusing on modern streetcar technology as an attractive transit solution. A recent example is the City of Toronto, which in May 2009 identified Bombardier as preferred bidder for North America’s largest light rail vehicle procurement ever encompassing 204 new 100% low-floor streetcars to replace the city’s aging fleet. Bombardier’s technology proposal for Toronto is based on the FLEXITY 100% low-floor technology platform operating with STIB in Brussels.
The FLEXITY solution in Brussels
STIB’s 68 FLEXITY vehicles operate on significant parts of the Brussels 533-km public transport network that serves more than 286 million riders each year. To further enhance its network, STIB commissioned an additional 102 bi-directional FLEXITY trams, including a firm order for 87 vehicles in January 2008. The new FLEXITY vehicles support the city’s efforts to curb traffic congestion and reduce CO2 emissions.
The Brussels FLEXITY tram has been recognized in the industry for best in class innovation and design. It received the prestigious “Henry Van de Velde label” (2007) for its contemporary interpretation of the Art Nouveau style and a “Design at Work” Award (2008) for innovative product development and outstanding design qualities.
Currently, more than 450 100% low-floor FLEXITY vehicles are in successful revenue service in Brussels (Belgium), Linz and Innsbruck (Austria), Lodz (Poland), Eskisehir (Turkey), Geneva (Switzerland), Marseille (France), Valencia and Alicante (Spain), and will soon be put into operation in Palermo (Italy), Augsburg and Krefeld (Germany).