No April Fools this time, just news that TriMet has proposed a resolution for the Board of Directors, to authorize a procurement of new Type 5 LRT vehicles, from Siemens. And no, they won’t really consist of 40′ busses tethered to flatbed railcars, as cool as that might sound. :)
Siemens, who manufactures the Type 2, Type 3, and Type 4 railcars presently used by MAX, was one of three entities bidding on the prior Request for Proposal; another was a joint venture between Stadler Rail, a Swiss railcar manufacturer, and OIW/United Streetcar. The third bidder was CAF USA, a US subsidiary of Spanish manufacturer CAF. Siemens had the strongest technical bid, and came in at a median price ($73.8M). For comparison, OIW had a median technical score, but demanded the highest price of $76.2M. CAF had the lowest bid ($69.7M) but also the lowest technical score.
Regarding the question of whether or not the OIW bid may have been preferable due to its local nature, especially given that the difference between the two bids was only $2.4M (and both bids were below the budgetary price in the project plans), TriMet noted in the resolution that:
While TriMet recognizes that the Project provides the opportunity to bring local jobs to the Portland area, federal regulations prohibit local preference as an evaluation criteria in the RFP. The Siemens contract price is $8 million below the Engineer’s estimate and well within TriMet’s budget for this contract.
The good news for OIW is that it didn’t get blown out of the water on technical evaluation; and did better than one of the established railcar manufacturers bidding on the deal. On the other hand, had OIW won the bid, it might have not gotten much design knowledge it would have gotten out of the deal, as I’m certain that Stadler engineers and not OIW engineers would be leading the design work–OIW’s role was in large part to permit Stadler, which currently doesn’t have any US assembly plants of its own, to gain access to the US market, specifically the bulk of FTA-funded projects subject to Buy America requirements.
Hat tip to Michael Andersen at Portland Afoot.