Return of the Streetcar

Streetcars returning to North America >> re:place Magazine.

re:place Magazine interviewed Steve Hall, general manager of Bombarider’s Vancouver office, about the future of streetcars.

Mr. Hall is definitely bullish on the future of streetcars and mentions that Bombardier is offering some new, unique innovations in streetcars.  For one, they are the first to offere all-low-floor streetcars.

Recent technological innovations are making streetcars an even easier fit for North American cities. Bombardier is now producing the first 100% low floor streetcars in Europe, with the Vancouver currently the only place to ride one in North America. “This is the very first time that there’s been a conventional axel wheel set on a low-floor streetcar”, says Hall. “It didn’t really take off until we were able to do this without a special bogie design.”

Another interesting technology is an interesting way to power streetcars without the overhead wires, also known as catenaries.

Another innovation coming soon is catenary-free operation, with power coming not from an overhead power supply, but by induction of power from the roadside. Called PRIMOVE, as Hall explains “There’s no actual contact between the streetcar and the power source – it’s a derivation of the SkyTrain motor technology. Since there’s no contact, there’s no wear or maintenance on the street side either. And there’s no power out there on the street so there’s no risk. ” PRIMOVE should prove especially popular where cities do not want overhead catenary blocking views, such as the old European town centres.

If these two advances prove to be as good as they sound, then Bombardier will definitely be a leader in the transport biz for a long time.  And we’re lucky that the demo streetcar is in Vancouver for this time with its 100% low floor and leather seats.  I still can’t get over the leather.

Bombardier Flexity Streetcar on the Olympic Line


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