Last month, the Toronto Star published a front-page article that was highly critical of our company. Titled “Not In Service: Inside Bombardier’s Delayed Streetcar Deliveries,” the piece ran more than 10,000 words in length. Clearly, it had been many weeks in the making and it was the centerpiece of several articles and editorials critical of our Company.
We believe the story was flawed in that it failed to give a fair accounting of the progress Bombardier has made executing its turn-around plan over the past two years. Rather, the story essentially ended its reporting as of 2015. A fact highlighted by the time-line that ran with the story:
By arbitrarily bookending the story in 2015, we believe the Star left readers with an incomplete and therefore inaccurate picture of where Bombardier stands today and where it is headed.
So, we asked the Star to print our response pointing out this shortcoming. They refused.
Here is the letter Toronto Start refused to print:
Letter to the (Toronto Star) editor:
Toronto is important to Bombardier. Every day, 1.5 million people take Bombardier streetcars, subways and trains around Toronto and the GTA. We are part of the fabric of this city, and we are proud of that.
We also recognize that our past performance has not been perfect and we make no excuses. We have apologized for our missteps, we have taken action to correct them, and it’s working.
Unfortunately, recent coverage in the Toronto Star about past challenges on our rail projects essentially ends in 2015, giving readers a dated and one-sided account of where Bombardier stands today, and more importantly, where it is headed and what that means for the people of this city.
Over the last eight months we have met every target of our new delivery schedule, and we will continue to do so. TTC CEO Andy Byford has said he has no reason to doubt our ability to meet the new deadlines for delivery – which means more comfortable, efficient and reliable streetcars running in Toronto in the near future.
As part of our commitment to developing Toronto’s growing public transit network, Bombardier has also produced the new Toronto Rocket subway trains. The trains are functional, modern and have drastically improved subway capacity. TTC COO Mike Palmer has said the TTC is “absolutely thrilled” with them, going so far as to describe their performance as “world-class”.
Today, Bombardier has a new leadership team executing a five-year turn-around plan that is already showing results. By portraying Bombardier through a two-year old lens, The Star gives readers a distorted portrait of our company; a company that in many respects, no longer exists.
The same issue holds true for the Star Editorial Board’s dated characterization of Bombardier’s C Series. The facts, here in 2017, are as follows: both C Series models entered service flawlessly; they have accumulated almost 10,000 revenue flights; and they are receiving universally positive reviews from customers, pilots, and the flying public alike.
The truth is that Bombardier created a superior airplane that is more comfortable for passengers, more fuel efficient for the environment and more economical for airlines. The Star’s failure to recognize this is an insult to our employees, investors, and suppliers who have worked together to bring this great plane to the global marketplace.
At Bombardier we take our responsibility to deliver on our promises seriously, which is why we have made significant changes and investments to improve our performance. And, while we are careful to learn from our past missteps, our focus is squarely on the future and the important work we are doing to deliver for Toronto.
We were disappointed that the Star denied us the opportunity to publish a good faith response to an in-depth article that presented our company in a very negative light.
Of course, we recognize that editors are perfectly free to differ with us and present stories as they see fit. However, when they shut down discussion and withhold our perspective from their pages, readers would be right to question their commitment to transparency and balanced coverage.