Less than two weeks after a fourth light rail vehicle arrived in Waterloo Region, the total number of Ion vehicles in the area has fallen to three.

Vehicle 501, which arrived last February to much fanfare, was shipped out of the region on Tuesday. It will be sent to Kingston, as it was never fully complete.

All of the vehicles are still owned by Bombardier, which left the company with a decision to make about whether it would send workers to Waterloo to finish off 501 or ship the vehicle back to Kingston.

“We’re looking to have this vehicle be done in the next few months,” Marc-Andrè Lefebvre, a spokesperson for Bombardier, said Tuesday in an interview.

Coun. Tom Galloway, who chairs the regional committee overseeing the LRT project, says having even a non-functioning vehicle was necessary, as it could be towed along the track to test the construction of the vehicle maintenance facility in north Waterloo.

“We needed it,” he says.

It was almost nine months later before another vehicle arrived in Waterloo – this one functional, as have been the two to arrive since then.

The remaining 10 vehicles remain at Bombardier’s plant in Kingston. Galloway says all of them are at least under assembly, while some are “basically finished” – close enough to send here, at least, if that’s what the region wanted.

“Even though there are more vehicles in Kingston that could be shipped, we’ve told them ‘Don’t ship them right now. Make sure they’re 100 per cent before we get them,’” Galloway says.

According to Galloway, three vehicles are enough to start more active testing of the LRT line. He says a vehicle will be soon pulled along the entire 19-kilometre route, while regular testing on the Waterloo section of the track could begin later this month.

As a result, it is still expected that the system will be ready for passenger service sometime this spring.

“We’re anticipating that they will be able to deliver all those vehicles and get them commissioned in time for a spring 2018 (launch), but there is really no room for any problems in that schedule,” Galloway says.

The shipping costs for moving light rail vehicles between Kingston and Waterloo are borne by Bombardier.

With reporting by Tina Yazdani