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Possible Streetcar Delay Has Kansas City Officials Talking Tough

Willoughby Design, Inc.

The Kansas City streetcars could be very late arriving. And Mayor Sly James says that is becoming a “critical issue.”

City officials say they are having “very strong conversations” with CAF USA, the company building the streetcars after CAF USA notified the city that there could be a “significant delay” beyond the September delivery date for the first car. That date had already been moved back from June.

The city was hoping to have two cars tested and in operation for visitors to the Big 12 Tournament in March. 

But the worst-case scenario CAF presented would be a delivery around the first of the year. Kansas City engineers say that would make a March opening date virtually impossible.

Kansas City “piggy-backed” its order for the streetcars on a Cincinnati order for five cars. CAF has not returned calls from reporters in either city. 

But comments from officials in both cities indicate that the combined order has been jinxed by a number of problems. The difficulties include late shipments of parts from CAF's European facilities, difficulty of integrating European and American parts and components and testing and quality control issues.

Kansas City Communications Director Chris Hernandez says the city has expressed its displeasure with the delays and is currently negotiating with CAF, insisting that they “do what they need to do to fix their production process so that streetcars in perfect condition are delivered to us on our schedule.”

CAF is now telling the city it can't comment on the length of the delay until possibly after Sept. 1.

Meanwhile, Kansas City is holding CAF to the contract provision of a $1,000 a day fine for every day delivery is late beyond the original promised date of June 10.

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