From the Detroit Free Press:
M-1 Rail has selected a Pennsylvania company to design and build its Detroit streetcars that would start hauling passengers up and down Woodward Avenue late next year, and perhaps someday to Cobo and the GM Renaissance Center.
Brookville Equipment of Brookville, Pa., will supply the six streetcars as well as spare parts and support services at a cost of $32 million, the M-1 Rail organization announced today.
Brookville is one of the few U.S-based manufacturers of modern streetcars. It has experience in battery-powered streetcars — a key concern for M-1 — through its work with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system as reported in the Free Press last week.
Matt Cullen, CEO of M-1 Rail, said the streetcars will be similar to those the company has delivered to Dallas, although slightly wider and a different color than that system’s blue, yellow and white cars. A conceptual rendering shows a Detroit streetcar with a red, white and black color scheme, although James Canning, M-1 spokesman, said that no final decision has been made regarding the colors.
Detroit’s streetcars will seat up to 32 passengers and, including standing room, could carry about 125 passengers. The three-piece cars would run up to 35 m.p.h.
Walk-up fares are expected to be $1.50, although passes and other fare options will be available.
About 3,000 to 5,000 people are projected to ride the streetcar line each day once it opens.
The M-1 Rail system is expected to have 60% of its 3.3-mile route along Woodward between downtown and New Center off wire, meaning that most of it will run on battery power. The rest of the route would use an overhead catenary system of electrified wires for charging the batteries.
M-1 said last year that it was negotiating with Inekon Group of the Czech Republic on the streetcars, but chose Brookville after previous bidders were asked for a best and final offer when M-1 and Inekon could not reach agreement, according to Canning.
“Brookville has had success building streetcars with similar operating systems and specifications to what we have planned for M-1 Rail, so we know exactly what we’re getting,” Paul Childs, chief operating officer for M-1 Rail, said in a news release.
“Other streetcar projects utilize overhead wiring for everything from vehicle propulsion to the infrastructure of their maintenance and repair sites. M-1 Rail will minimize its impact on the aesthetics of Detroit’s iconic Woodward Avenue, and we also will not have the labyrinth of wires overhead at the Penske Technical Center.”
Cullen told reporters today that M-1 Rail could be in a good position to receive federal funds for future expansion once the initial 3.3-mile straight loop proves successful.
Federal officials “are much, much more likely to support an expansion of an existing system than the creation of a new one,” Cullen said.
And future expansion doesn’t have to be limited to further north up Woodward.
“It’s not just linear,” Cullen said. “There’s a lot of people saying, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be something if you could have a streetcar connected that went from Cobo to the Ren Cen. Or up Gratiot to Eastern Market.’<TH>”
Founded in 1918, Brookville employs just over 200 nonunionized workers and entered the modern streetcar business in the early 2000s, according to the company.