Myrtone wrote:Here in the Australian state of Victoria, we used to have a rail vehicle manufacturer called Comeng (pronounced Komenj), which was abse to to select the best and make it under a licence rather than stick with one inferior product. But then ADtranz (now Bombardier transportaion) bought them. Could United streetcar do what Comeng used to? Is it true as Tonyp speculated on ralipage, that the one model is a startup test case.
Maybe. But United Streetcar has spent a lot of time building a factory and tooling for one design, and has one car to show for it and just one order from, IIRC, Tucson. If they can license the design, more power to them.
Myrtone wrote:Is there any way to help as many cities as possible find a way to self fund?
What kind of help are you talking about? Sure, a city could ask someone else how they afforded it. But the minute that a single dollar of federal money is kicked in, you're forced to comply with federal regulations - and that includes Buy American.
In fact, just this week I saw a newspaper insert for the Rail-Volution conference being held here in Portland. And on the back page of that insert was an ad for United Streetcar...and sure enough, there it was as a bullet point in big, bold, italic letters: "BUY AMERICAN COMPLIANT".
Myrtone wrote:This would involve property aquisition and building demolition in some cases. Is Philladelphia a heritage system? You might be thinknig of legacy systems.
Not necessarily; the Portland Streetcar was built generally in-street.
Myrtone wrote:Do the WES (whatever that stands for) platform heights differ from the rest of the system. Whatever Tri-Met did with railways, one should engineer trams to accommodate the system not the other way round. Tramway networks should be engineered to fit the local geography.
I agree. That's why I am questioning why anyone would buy the car you are talking about. Unless it is an existing line that has clearance issues that would make the United Streetcar vehicle unsuitable, then the line is going to be built with all of the factors in mind - geography AND vehicle. You wouldn't build a railroad track that meets the geography, and then come to realize that there's not a single piece of rolling stock that would run on it - would you? You wouldn't build a track with a gauge of 51 inches, for example, when all of the equipment out there wants to run on a 56.5 inch gauge track.
I'm not saying that the 100% low floor vehicle is a bad design by any stretch of the imagination; and if it were locally available it would certainly be a worthy option to look at. But your question up front was would any U.S. streetcar systems buy it, and I responded no - not because it's an inferior product, but because it doesn't meet Buy American requirements, nearly every Streetcar project in the United States is a new build line, and federal dollars are involved in almost every Streetcar project now. It's not a vehicle issue, it's a legal issue.
Myrtone wrote:I was thinking of cases where the monopoly results from forcing all clients to purchase from one supplier when they could otherwise go along with other better suppliers.
Again, it's a legal issue. Unfortunately there is only one manufacturer of a modern streetcar in the U.S. so that's your option, take it or leave it. Just like when Colorado Railcar was selling their DMUs - if you wanted to start a commuter rail line with DMU equipment you essentially had one choice. There were two agencies that were able to jump through a lot of hoops and use other equipment - and I don't believe that either the NJT River Line or the NCTD Sprinter received federal funding, thus allowing them to purchase Swiss and German made equipment. (However Siemens has stated that any future orders for the Desiro DMU vehicle will be built at their Sacramento LRV plant.)
Maybe if the streetcar craze grows, we'll see more than one Streetcar manufacturer. Maybe well see Inkeon enter into an actual partnership so that any of its European spec cars can be easily built here in the U.S. Maybe we'll see Bombardier open up a U.S. plant for its streetcar that it had demonstrated in Vancouver, BC during the Winter Olympics. I believe Europe has some excellent rolling stock available - the Bombardier Talent is one of my favorite DMU designs, but I won't see it here in the U.S.