BART is backing Canadian train deal 

click to enlarge U.S. jobs: Canadian company Bombardier has vowed to build 66 percent of BART train cars in the U.S. - COURTESY RENDERING
  • Courtesy rendering
  • U.S. jobs: Canadian company Bombardier has vowed to build 66 percent of BART train cars in the U.S.

BART has recommended a Canadian manufacturing firm to head up its $2.5 billion train-replacement project despite lobbying by supporters of a firm that would have built more of the cars in the United States.

The regional rail agency operates the oldest fleet of transit trains in the country, and it has made replacing the vehicles its top priority. On Monday, BART announced it will be recommending Bombardier, a firm that has built train systems across the globe, for the project. Bombardier finished with  the top score from BART’s 31-month bidding process, which weighed eight criteria and eventually chose between three manufacturing firms.

The agency opted to go with Bombardier despite concerns that the Canadian company would not provide as many domestic jobs as its bidding rivals. Bombardier has pledged to build 66 percent of BART’s 775 train cars in the United States, a mark that is above the federal threshold of 60 percent. However, it’s significantly less than the 95 percent promised by Alstom, the French manufacturer that finished second in the contract bidding.

This month, U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, toured the Alstom facility and urged BART to honor its commitment to support domestic growth. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers also requested that BART take the Alstom contract.

On Thursday, BART’s board of directors will vote on the contract. The original cost was projected to be $3.2 billion, but has been revised to $2.5 billion.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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Will Reisman

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