MBTA and Buy America Act

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MBTA and Buy America Act

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:23 pm

Regarding "Buy America Act" and local assembly rules, how were the (Blue/Orange) Hawker-Siddeley cars delivered direct from Thunder Bay in 1979-81 without a domestic final assembly point? Were these cars built without federal funds (state funded/bond funded) or some waiver? And by 1988, were the 01700s delivered direct from Thunder Bay as well (by then merged with UTDC)? The 01800s were built in Barre, Vermont with stainless shells supplied from Quebec, AC traction equipment from GE in Erie and a high percentage of domestic content. The Type 8s came from Breda's shop in Littleton, and the Siemens Blue Line cars were assembled in Elmira Heights (now the CAF assembly plant for the Viewliners).

And to add, are Type 9s built as complete cars and fabricated on site in Elmira Heights like the Viewliners or assembled from shells?
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Re: MBTA and Buy America Act

Postby jwhite07 » Sat Dec 08, 2018 10:59 pm

Gotta really read into the regs... the major provisions of the Buy America Act as relates to transit procurement will tell you it wasn't in effect during the procurement of the 0600/01200 fleet.

Final assembly and setup work for the 01700s was done by a subcontractor to PX Associates in Mansfield MA. Close to the same time period, both the MBB 500/1500 commuter rail coaches and Kinki-Sharyo Type 7s underwent final assembly at Enprotech in Readville, MA.
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Re: MBTA and Buy America Act

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:23 pm

Most rapid transit/light rail hardware in this day and age is built on/around an imported bodyshell, and the only variable on that is where the shells actually come from.

As to why? These "Buy American Provision" shops open and close all of the time, because there isn't enough business stateside to keep them continuously open, and a shop location that might work for one contract and client (say, upstate NY for an MTA contract) might be a liability on the next big bid for someone in another state like CTA or BART where the polticians there are going to want to be able to say that their trains are also built in-state.

The big problem is that this is hugely inefficient, as you basically need to hire and train a new pool of workers for each bid job only to lay them all off two years later. As Rotem found out the hard way in Philly, it's hard enough to do that smoothly and efficiently when you're just worrying about the basic wrench-turning and electrical work involved in final assembly, but the prospect of doing that with the far more complex and skill-based job of bodyshell fabrication, where you need lots of tooling and a pool of welders and fabricators who really knows what they're doing (and the good ones are going to want to work for more than 2 years) for it to go smoothly, is an absolute nightmare to even the best manufacturers. So they delegate bodyshell fabrication to their main factories which operate much as Budd or SLCC once did, where their highly-skilled workers are constantly fabricating bodyshells for all of their contracts, world-wide, while throwing a bone to their clients with "buy American" provisions by setting up pop-up factories where transiently-employed semi-skilled workers assemble the final product for a year or two before it shuts down and re-opens 3 years later in another state.
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Re: MBTA and Buy America Act

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Sun Dec 09, 2018 4:24 pm

jwhite07 wrote:Gotta really read into the regs... the major provisions of the Buy America Act as relates to transit procurement will tell you it wasn't in effect during the procurement of the 0600/01200 fleet.
I believed the Buy America Act in some form had dated back to the early 70s. When the Boeing cars were retired in 2007, it was mentioned in the ERA Bulletin that the procurement of the LRVs was a product of the Nixon administration's "Buy America" policy, giving preference to domestic assembly and also encouraging the aerospace/defense industry to consider rail transit. And the first Kawasaki cars in the country, SEPTA's 1981 City and Suburban cars, were locally assembled at Boeing Vertol.
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Re: MBTA and Buy America Act

Postby diburning » Mon Dec 10, 2018 11:02 pm

You're mistaking the "Buy American Act" of 1933 with the Buy America Act of 1982. The former only applied to direct purchases by the US Federal Government, while the latter, enacted in 1982, covered all surface transportation vehicles, components, and infrastructure purchased with grants or assistance from federal taxpayer funds, regardless of who is doing the purchasing.
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