City's rail rendering
City's rail rendering

Interesting items in the latest Project Management Oversight Contractor‘s Monthly report:

The following two excerpts are from the Project Management Oversight Contractor’s (PMOC) MONTHLY REPORT for HART April 2012 (FINAL). They raise questions that we all have to ask the City (and HART) about at their meetings. It is the only time that they sometimes provide answers to questions.

“The PMOC has concerns with the adequacy of [HART’s] ability to forecast costs for the existing Design-Build (DB) contracts. The grantee’s current Estimate at Completion (EAC) does not accurately provide an assessment of the contract costs.” p. 4. (emphasis added).

Our note: HART is presently discussing rail’s cost for the existing contracts as being set in place and that it has resulted in set prices with great savings.

“The alignment will …. provide two significant areas with potential for Transit Oriented Development, one near the Airport and one in the surrounding industrial areas.” p. 10. (emphasis added).

Our note: Only two significant areas? Are the others HART discusses considered insignificant by the FTA/PMOC?

A buyer for Ansaldo?

China South Locomotive, majority-owned by the Chinese government, is considering making a bid for Italian train maker Ansaldo STS SpA (STS), according to today’s London Sunday Times.

Thought for the Day:

If we build rail we would find that we are wedded to rail forever no matter how high the subsidies climb and how low the ridership gets. We will not be able to get out from under it. That is because, a) we would not be able to sell it unless we were to guarantee the buyer’s future losses plus some profit to make it worth their while. We could not just tear it down because a) it would be an expensive process, and b) we would be legally required to return all the federal funding back to the federal government.

Build it and they will come (by car?):

Houston opened its rail line on January 1, 2004 having had combined public transportation ridership (excluding Handi-Van type) in 2003 of 91.4 million prior to opening. The last annual data we have is 2011 and combined public transportation ridership was 79.9 million — a decline of 12.5 percent while enjoying a 7.5 percent increase in population 2000-2020. You can check these data for ridership and population yourself.

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