To educate potential clients about the process of buying a tram or incline car, every so often I plan to publish a short article here.
COST: THE FIXED, THE VARIABLE, AND THE DIY
Many potential tram buyers have no idea what to expect when they begin their search for a company to install a tram. I'm frequently asked to quote a price based on the linear footage of the proposed tram path. I'm also often requested to quote a wholesale or Do-It-Yourself (DIY) price. The reality is, neither of these is feasible. Like most products, the price of a tram is based on the cost to produce, assemble, ship, and install the system - plus a reasonable profit for the provider.
In the case of a tram system a significant part of that cost is fixed or semi-fixed. That is, regardless of whether the required system is 60' or 300' long, it will require a car, a control system, a drive unit, etc. These elements comprise a major part of the total overall cost.
The remaining cost components are variable (i.e. driven by the length of the system). They are: the track sections and underlying support structure, cabling, and the shipping and installation.
These fixed and variable costs, taken together, make up the total physical cost of the system. The supplier then adds a profit margin to arrive at the proposed price. Given the above, it's safe to say that as of this writing, the minimum price for a tram system - as offered by a reliable company - is about US$35,000. That would include all the basic fixed cost elements noted above, up to 100' of track and underlying structure installed on a site, within 500 miles of the manufacturer.
NOTE: Extreme caution should be exercised when dealing with any company that proposes a price significantly less than that amount.
Finally, I'll address the question of why is a DIY kit not feasible. A company in the tram business requires a substantial amount of expensive insurance. Given the high degree of risk involved in the configuration of the product and the quality of the installation, the insurance company imposes certain restrictions on the production and installation of the tram. Because a tram company would have no control over the quality of the installation were it to be done by anyone not trained and employed by the seller, we are strictly prohibited from selling a DIY kit. I'm quite sure that's a standard policy throughout the industry.
In a forthcoming article I'll explain in more detail what a buyer should look for to insure they are purchasing a quality tram. In the meantime, should you have any questions please don't hesitate to call me at 704-400-8143.
~ Jack Bowman, Owner