Costs for storing D.C. streetcars rise as delays continue

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Local,DC,Transportation,Kytja Weir

The years of delays to D.C.'s streetcar network are racking up costs for the District, with city officials recently agreeing to pay an additional $427,000 for storage of three streetcars and other equipment until the trolley lines start running.

The District said it would pay Metro the additional money starting Dec. 18 to store the streetcars until June 2013, District Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle said.

It's the second time the city has had to renegotiate the costs. The city originally agreed to pay Metro $16.1 million to buy, then store three streetcars for a planned line in Anacostia, plus some substations and rails. But the continual delays racked up costs in 2009, and now again this year. The additions total $1.28 million.

The Skoda-Inekon railcars were ordered in March 2005, with local officials piggybacking on an order for the Portland, Ore., streetcar network.

The cars themselves cost $9.76 million including initial storage and insurance costs, Lisle said. That amount does not include a 13 percent management fee.

Examiner Archives
  • More construction ahead for H Street trolley line (12/5/11)
  • MontCo lawmakers want D.C. streetcar at Silver Spring Metro (11/17/11)
  • D.C. officials to plan for more streetcar lines (4/18/11)
  • The trams were put in storage for about three years in the Czech Republic, where they were made, when the city ran into trouble with the planned route for the Anacostia line.

    In 2010, the city had them shipped over, showing them off with great fanfare and promises they would be running on two lines, H Street and Anacostia, by spring 2012.

    Now, though, the H Street line is supposed to start running in July 2013 and the other line has no start date. Metro is continuing to store and maintain the cars for the city.

    Lisle said the delays aren't adding significant expense to the project. Having the cars on hand helps make the city ready for the start of service, he said.

    "There's also cost savings from buying the cars in 2007 rather than later when they cost more," Lisle said. "Maybe that balances out."

    Meanwhile, an order for two more streetcars is moving forward. The city reached a deal earlier this month with United Streetcar LLC to buy two streetcars for $8.7 million, as first reported by the Washington Business Journal. D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh initially held up the contract with concerns about the bidding process, but she withdrew her resolution late Thursday after getting her questions answered, said her spokeswoman Kiara Pesante.

    kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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