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Intermediate Capacity Transit System: Canadair's involvement with ground transportation systems began with a 1971 study for the federal government. On June 20, 1976, Ontario's Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC) announced that Canadair would design and build its new Intermediate Capacity Transit System (ICTS) and three test vehicles.
The ICTS is a high-density people-mover system capable of carrying 20,000 people per direction per hour (a step up from street cars). Trains of one or more 70-passenger vehicles run in guideways located at ground level, underground or elevated. Capable of speeds up to 80 km/h (50 mph), they can be controlled manually or automatically.
UTDC wanted a quiet system, so the designers reduced noise by substituting aluminum alloy for traditional heavy steel trucks (bogies), eliminated wheel squeal when making tight turns by incorporating steerable trucks, and installed linear motors for noiseless propulsion.
Canadair also supervised construction of a 2.4-km (1.5-mi.) ICTS test track at Millhaven, Ontario. When it opened on October 27, 1978, 80 Canadair personnel moved from Montreal to operate it.
With the development phase completed, many Canadair employees joined Venturetran, a company formed to produce systems for Vancouver, B.C., Scarborough, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan.
The Vancouver "Skytrain" system opened just in time for the start of Expo 86. It ran initially from the city centre 25 km (15 mi.) to New Westminster. By 1994 it had been extended a further 4.3 km (2.7 mi.) to Surrey and further extensions were being considered. The 7-km (4.3-mi.) Scarborough system and Detroit's 3-km (2 mi.) system have not been extended.
The Ontario government later sold UTDC to Lavalin which in turn sold it to Bombardier Inc. Bombardier continued to improve the system and, in November 1994, Malaysia ordered an updated version for Kuala Lumpur.
Update: On January 19,1999, Bombardier Transportation announced it will establish a Centre for Advanced Transit Systems, in Burnaby, B.C. The Centre will devote its efforts to promoting the Vancouver Sky Train system internationally as a world-class model for urban transit solutions. Operations are scheduled to start by year end.