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Clackamas-made streetcar begins service

by: COURTESY UNITED STREETCAR - The second Portland Sttreetcar made by United Streetcar in Clackamas County began carrying passengers the morning of June 11. The thrd one could go into service next week.The second Portland Streetcar produced by United Streetcar in Clackamas County officially went into service Tuesday morning.

It will be hard to miss — one side is painted yellow and the other side is painted magenta.

A third streetcar, delivered in April could begin service next week after certification testing. And the final three streetcars ordered by the city should be delivered in the following weeks and months, company officials.

“Portland Streetcar, the City of Portland and our employees have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to reviving the manufacture of streetcars in the United States,” said Kevin Clarke, President of United Streetcar. “Working collaboratively, we’ve overcome every obstacle, and we’re pleased this day has come.”

The accelerating schedule is good news for both the city and the company. United Streetcar is the first American company to build streetcars in six decades. Portland contracted with them to help restart the industry in this country.

The first car, a prototype, has been in service for many months. It is distinguished by large "Made in USA" lettering along both sides. But completing and certifying the second car took longer than expected.

“We’re excited to participate in the venture that’s put into service the first modern streetcars manufactured in the United States in more than 59 years,” said Rick Gustafson, Executive Director of Portland Streetcar. “These cars will serve Portland for many years, and because they were built here in the U.S., future costs for parts and repairs are expected to be considerably less than those of foreign-made streetcars.”

Now, company officials says, they hope to deliver the last of the six streetcars ordered by Portland later this summer and begin producing streetcar for other American cities that are starting their own streetcar lines. Tuscon and Washington DC have both placed orders with United Streetcar, which is owned by Oregon Iron Works.

Total costs for the prototype and six production streetcars are approximately $26.3 million, with the funds coming from the state and federal governments, says Gustfson. Portland Streetcar has an option to buy a seventh production streetcar for $1.5 million.

The deliveries are about one year behind schedule, says Gustafson. He attributes that to unexpected difficulties encountered in trying to build the first Amercian-made streetcars in nearly 60 years, including meeting strict federal safety standards.




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