More groups call on BART to buy new cars made in America.
San Francisco's sprawling transit system, BART, extends underneath the San Francisco Bay and out through eastern cities like Oakland and Alameda. BART ("Bay Area Rapid Transit") officials are currently contemplating a multi-billion-dollar overhaul of their fleet of subway cars.
Currently, BART is trying to decide between bids for 775 new cars from three finalists in the bidding process: Bombardier, Alstom, and Hyundai Rotem. As Andy Thompson reports in the Hornell Evening Tribune, even though Bombardier is currently the low-bidder, there are a variety of factors that will play into the final selection.
BART is now entering a 15-day review of Bombardier's bid, which came in at 2% less than Alstom's projected costs, and 4% less than Hyundai Rotem. Bombardier projects that 60% of its car content would be USA-made, while Alstom says its content could reach 95% American-made.
As the BART board weighs its options, various groups are urging that BART go with the most American-made option.
The California Labor Federation has written to BART explaining that there is a U.S. company that could supply the needed rail cars, and would have 95% domestic content. The federation says that puchasing such cars could support "thousands more jobs in the U.S. building BART cars and purchasing from U.S.-based suppliers."
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) has also written to BART, expressing strong displeasure with the possibility that the contract might go to Bombardier rather than Alstom:
This letter is in response to preliminary media reports that indicate the Bay Area Rapid Transit (“BART”) staff intends to recommend Bombardier Transportation as the preferred provider for 775 passenger rail cars to replace its aging fleet. These media reports are extremely disturbing to our union, but most importantly – to the hundreds of workers that we currently represent at Alstom Transportation. Our members at Alstom are some of the most highly skilled and productive railcar manufactory workers in the world. They have produced over 7,000 U.S. metro cars at Alstom’s Hornell, New York rail passenger car facility and these cars are regarded as some of the world’s most reliable –with some traveling more that 1,400,000 miles before requiring significant maintenance. Awarding a railcar contract of this magnitude that is funded with American tax dollars to a non-unionized company that barely meets the Buy America requirements sends the wrong message to the railcar industry, the workers and BART’s riders.
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