SMART has received bids from DMU vendors. And as predicted, those bids are way above the market price for DMUs.
So how has SMART staff reported this news to the Board?
The price proposal from SCOA is very favorable to SMART, so much so that it became clear in the evaluation process that its acceptance without further change was in the best interest of SMART…SMART’s estimate for this base order prior to opening of the price proposals was approximately $80 million. The recommended award is for a contract that is about $23 million below the engineer’s estimate.
The lowest bid (Sumitomo Corporation of America) was $56 million for 9 DMU trainsets; i.e. $6 million per trainset. Similar projects in Europe are considerably less expensive, around $3-4 million per trainset. For example, Alstom’s sale of 23 DMU trainsets for $90 million to Hessische Landesbahn GmbH (transit operator in Hesse, Germany). Or this Deutsche-Bahn order of 30 DMUs for $96 million.
Even worse, the Sumitomo bid isn’t for a real train. It exists only on the drawing board. The SMART riders will be the ones to test and debug it.
So how did they get to this point? Answer: the usual reasons…staff specifying custom-designed rolling stock, and refusal to pursue FRA-waiver. The regulatory flaming-hoops-of-fire (FTA Buy-America rules, and FRA/PUC screwiness). Just another example of how American transit riders pay more, and get less.