Image shows a GO bus

Ontario transit agencies save more than $23 million buying buses through Metrolinx program

Unique procurement agreement brings savings to provincial transit partners

Bulk buying isn’t just something reserved for personal weekend trips to Costco. Sure, braving the crowds and long lineups will save a few bucks but big business can also take advantage and save huge money.

Purchasing transit vehicles, for example, can be a very expensive proposition. Tens of millions of dollars are spent by Ontario municipalities regularly. Cost savings always has to be a top priority. The best way to do that is to try and bring organizations together to get the most bang for their buck.

“When they need to buy buses, or any other transit related goods,” said Yolanda da Silva, the Manager for Transit Procurement at Metrolinx. “We pool as many municipalities that have the same interest or need for a certain item.”

St Catherines 18 M Nova Bus LFS
St. Catharines Transit Nova Bus LFS Artic

Metrolinx’s Transit Procurement Initiative (TPI) has worked with 45 transit agencies across Ontario since it began in 2006. More than 1,500 buses have been ordered and the program has saved Ontario taxpayers an estimated $23 million as of March 31, 2018.

“TTC has ordered a total of 80 minibuses on this joint procurement,” said Loris Dametto, Program Manager for the Toronto Transit Commission. “TPI has demonstrated sound technical knowledge and have been very responsive to TTC’s needs.”

TTC Mini Bus Wheel Trans Bus during the Invictus Games October, 2017
TTC Wheel-Trans Bus during the Invictus Games October, 2017

The joint program takes care of what can be a lengthy process by speeding it up. It helps municipal authorities make financial purchases, from the actual buses to their service and repair, driven entirely by voluntary participation.

“Joining TPI for the eight-metre bus purchase saved us a minimum of four to six months in procurement time,” said Kevin Jones, the Manager of Transportation at the City of Peterborough. “(That allowed) us to target implementation of new services for our customers almost half a year earlier than we originally expected.”

“It’s phenomenal to hear how much of a benefit and how much of a difference we make,” da Silva said. “They wear multiple hats and if we can help them out and they feel they can turn to us, I think we are really servicing our partners.”

Bracebridge Transit 8m Low Floor Specialized Transit
Bracebridge Transit Low-Floor Specialized Vehicle

TPI joint deals have led to six different vehicle types, bus parts and what’s known as an Intelligent Transportation System – Automated Vehicle Location Solution (ITS-AVL) in 2016.

In September 2016, the 1,000th transit bus under TPI was delivered to St. Catharines Transit. This year, four new partners from Port Hope, Simcoe County, Orangeville and Guelph joined the program.

As a result of the work being done, the team responsible for the TPI program at Metrolinx was recognized with the 2017 LINX Award for Service Excellence.