City Desk

District Cancels Contract With Streetcar Makers

Washington Business Journal reports that the District has canceled its $8.7 million contract for two streetcars with Oregon-based United Streetcar LLC.

Apparently another bidder, the Inekon Group, asserted that the contract was improperly issued:

Inekon built the District's first two streetcars. It offered to build the next two, slated to run on the H Street/Benning Road line, for $9.5 million. While its bid was higher than United Streetcar's, Inekon argued in its protest that the winning contractor's low technical score should have ruled it ineligible for the award.

This might not mean the end of the streetcar plan. But it does make DDOT look a bit like a player in amateur hour, especially if they decide they have to start the process all over again because their scoring was off—which could certainly delay things more.

UPDATE: DDOT spokesperson John Lisle tells us over email: "The solicitation continues and we are determining our course of action."

We'll update with more information as it becomes available.

Photo via D.C. Streetcar

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Comments

  1. #1

    I'm not an expert and don't know what the project's Gantt Chart looks like, but I'd doubt that the car purchase is going to hold up the start date. They haven't even started constructing the turn-around, car barn, and substations yet. I would think that even with these delays, the cars can still show up in time. Not to defend the DC government too much, but contracts like this are challenged all the time at the federal level. I'm actually surprised DC has a formal process for it. Or maybe they don't and are acting on a whim. I would hate to think that a quibble over $800k will hold up the street car. I should stop talknig now, because this all assumes that reasonable people are making these decisions and I'm starting to realize that is not a given

  2. #2

    What all commenters fail to mention is that both trams are of Czech origin and partially made in US. Oregon Iron Works are making them under license from Škoda (Pilsen) while Inekon (Ostrava) wants to start building trams in cooperation with Pacifica Marine in Seattle.

    Škoda & Inekon are fighting hard for the Czech and Central European market, the clash over Washington contract is just one chapter in a very long book.

  3. #3

    DC's "loss" is Portland (OR)'s gain? Portland hopes to begin operating their Eastside streetcar extension late this year. While most of the infrastructure is in place, they are short of streetcars. An order from Portland for local company United Streetcar (nee Skoda) cars had been stuck behind that of DC's. Not any more.

    DC gains from a change in orders to Inekon as well. The transportation industry thrives on standardized equipment, for ease of maintenance. Keeping all of DC's cars of one maker will avoid equipment complications, especially important for a new start-up.

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