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Kansas City, Cincinnati To Find Out Extent Of Streetcar Delay In August

Photo illustration of a streetcar operating southbound on Main Street at 19th Street.
City of Kansas City
Photo illustration of a streetcar operating southbound on Main Street at 19th Street.

Kansas City and Cincinnati are in it together. Their streetcars are being built by the same company as part of the same order – to be delivered next month – allowing both cities a year for required testing before initiating rider service in 2016.

But CAF USA, the company building the streetcars said earlier this month delivery could be late. Leading to speculation the grand opening schedules would have to be pushed back.

Kansas City officials had little to say except that they had put the pressure on CAF to deliver on time or close to it.

Cincinnati spokesman Rocky Merz offered some reassurance, though he admitted the cities don't yet  know whether the delay will push the whole timeline back.

“We don't know until we get it from CAF,” he said, “But as long as it's a matter of weeks and not months we don't believe it will affect our opening date.”

CAF was not returning calls to reporters in either city, but has promised both city managers more information by the end of August.

According to the Cincinnati spokesman, the manufacturer is behind schedule on testing the braking and HVAC systems on the vehicles. 

CAF is a Spanish company with most of its experience in building European rolling stock, he says. Logistics realities and the contract with the cities required maximum reliance on American-made parts and materials, and CAF may have gotten some surprises. And nobody wants streetcars with brakes or air conditioning systems that don't work right. 

But Merz says both his city and Kansas City allowed plenty of time for federally required testing of the new streetcars. 

He just hopes CAF's month-end news isn't more bad news.

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