A cast of big name politicians including Ray LaHood unveiled the first Portland's six new streetcars last week, praising the streetcar construction's creation of 90 regional jobs and its impact on green transit. What wasn't mentioned at the press conference is the cost of each streetcar. When City Council votes tomorrow on whether to put $20 million toward the Eastside Streetcar Loop, it will hear from Oregon Iron Works, who won the bid to build six streetcars for $20 million. That cost pencils out to $3.33 million for each car.
That's $450,000 more per car than the cost estimate presented to Portlanders during the widely-attended Streetcar System Plan Open Houses back in May.
Streetcar Inc Executive Director Rick Gustafson says the May open house presentations were using old numbers, most likely projections based on the costs of Portland's old streetcars, which were built in the Czech Republic. Streetcar Inc received the $3.3 million price estimate in late April.
"Shouldn't you have had the most current numbers in the open house presentation?" I asked. Those meetings were the big chance Portlanders got the chance to review the whole Streetcar plan and ask questions of planners in person before tomorrow's council vote.
"Sure, that would have been nice," Gustafson replied. He says the cost estimates will be updated for any upcoming presentations.
The Eastside Loop's overall $148 million budget comes from a variety of sources. The state is covering the $20 million cost of the cars and the federal government is kicking in $75 million. The feds and Oregon Ironworks covered the entire cost of the prototype car unveiled last week — as the first of the series, it wound up costing over $7 million to build.
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