Friday, May 4, 2012

Los Angeles Won’t “Buy American” For Subway Cars

Generating a great deal of controversy, and two bid protests, Los Angeles County MTA voted Monday, April 30, to award the $890 million contract for construction of 235 new subway cars to Kinkisharyo International, a Japanese company that doesn’t even have a factory on this side of the Pacific yet. The new cars are needed to put rolling stock on the rails for the Crenshaw, Expo, Santa Monica and extended Gold lines, and to make up for a failed 100 car contract with Italian manufacturer AnsaldoBreda which fell apart late in 2009.

Competing bidders Siemens of Germany and Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles of Spain, both of which already have plants on American soil, are prosecuting protests of the award to the Japanese firm. Also opposing the award are the Urban League, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Siemens, which already has a factory in Sacramento, promised to open a new one in Los Angeles, and to invest $5 million in job training programs there. Siemens’ bid could have created up to 1,122 new American jobs, the opponents of the award say.

CAF USA has a plant in Elmira, New York. Though the Siemens price was more than the Japanese concern, CAF USA underbid Kinkisharyo by $104.4 million. CAF’s proposal predicts creation of 205 U.S. jobs. The Federal Transit Administration is reviewing the Japanese bid to determine whether stimulus legislation “buy American” requirements have been met, and final approval of the award is subject to the results of that review. METRO CEO Art Leahy says he is confident the FTA will approve the contract with the Japanese.

Well, you may ask, where are the full blooded American bidders? There aren’t any. Since Budd stopped manufacturing rail cars on April 3, 1987, and sold its designs to Canadian rail car and aircraft maker Bombardier, there hasn’t been any all-American passenger rail car maker on the scene. So much for Congressional mandates that stimulus funds be used to purchase products “Made In USA.”

blog comments powered by Disqus