Milwaukee Picks Brookville for Streetcar Project

Nov. 13, 2015

The city of Milwaukee on Nov. 13, chose Brookville Equipment Corp. to build The Milwaukee Streetcar’s first four modern vehicles and is taking steps to exercise an option to buy a fifth car for the Lakefront Line.

The Brookville, Pennsylvania-based transportation vehicle manufacturer was founded in 1918 and manufactures streetcars, locomotives and mining and tunneling vehicles.

“We have reached another major milestone toward making The Milwaukee Streetcar a reality,” Mayor Tom Barrett said. “I look forward to the economic development and transportation benefits The Milwaukee Streetcar and its modern new vehicles will bring Milwaukee.”

The city of Milwaukee’s Joint Committee on Downtown Streetcar Implementation on Sept. 25 authorized the Department of Public Works (DPW) to negotiate with Brookville. An evaluation committee had previously reviewed the four proposals the city received and recommended city staff enter into final negotiations with Brookville. Each proposal was evaluated on a “best value” approach that considered four criteria – qualifications, technical, budget and aesthetics.

The Joint Committee on Friday authorized DPW to award the contract to Brookville. Under the contract, the company will initially build four cars at a total cost of $18.6 million. In addition, the committee authorized DPW to exercise an option to purchase a fifth vehicle to be used primarily on the Lakefront Line upon executing a TIGER grant agreement with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). In October, the city received a $14.2 million grant from DOT for the Lakefront Line.

Each vehicle will be 67 feet long, hold up to 150 passengers, offer two doors per side and provide access for wheelchairs and for bicycles to be transported.

Department of Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban, who oversaw the evaluation, said that Brookville’s vehicles were chosen because the company’s proposal received the highest ranking from the evaluation committee and demonstrated the best value. Brookville has demonstrated success in recently manufacturing and delivering two similar vehicles for Dallas, with two more in the manufacturing process. The firm is currently in the engineering phase for six similar vehicles for Detroit.

“Brookville will provide Milwaukee streetcar riders with the most state-of-the-art, modern, American-made vehicles available, at the best possible value,” Korban said. “Brookville’s experience, high-quality cars and pricing make this a win-win-win.”

Also at the meeting, Jeffrey Kober, CEO and president of Cudahy-based Milwaukee Composites Inc., announced to the committee that his firm was donating flooring for the four vehicles.

“We greatly appreciate this generous donation from Jeff Kober and Milwaukee Composites of its high-quality, locally made flooring,” Korban said.

Brookville’s established U.S. supply chain will minimize the city’s exposure to delays or not meeting the FTA’s requirements, Korban said. The firm’s recent work with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and M-1 Rail will also save Milwaukee cost and time because of streamlined engineering, manufacturing efficiencies, reduced systems testing durations and lessons learned, he said. Milwaukee is currently exploring opportunities with these other entities to share spare part inventories and reduce operational and inventory costs.

The cars will be manufactured at the company’s Pennsylvania plant, with the first vehicle to be delivered in approximately 24 months. The manufacturer will comply with the federal Buy America provisions, which require the vehicles to be produced with at least 60 percent domestic content and final assembly of the vehicle to take place in the United States. The funding for the vehicles will come from federal grants. No city property taxes will be used in construction of the vehicles or other parts of the streetcar network.

Brookville has been in the streetcar business since 2002, building new modern streetcars and overhauling, restoring and modernizing existing streetcar vehicles. The company employs more than 200 people, and more than 65 of its streetcars are operating in the U.S.