Official urged MDOT not to lease costly railcars

February 25, 2015

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority — which is at the center of two proposed commuter rail services in southeast Michigan — urged the Michigan Department of Transportation not to lease rail passenger cars that are now sitting idle, costing taxpayers more than $1 million a year in rent, according to records obtained by the Free Press.

In 2009, more than a year before MDOT signed a contract to lease and refurbish the double-decker railcars, which since have cost the state about $12 million, an Ann Arbor transit official told MDOT the cars were not suitable for proposed commuter rail services because they didn’t meet federal requirements and tried to steer state officials toward other cars available for sale at a much lower price, the records show…

Despite the millions spent refurbishing and leasing the 23 cars and an ongoing lease costing the state about $3,000 a day for the cars to sit idle in an Owosso rail yard, the commuter services are estimated to be at least two years away and there is no operator or operating funds approved for either service…

Read the rest of the story in the Detroit Free Press, 25 February 2015

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