Breaking News: Metro Board Punts on AnsaldoBreda (Again, Part II)

6_25_09_breda.jpgBreda has a long history with Metro as evidenced by this logo on a Purple Line Car.
Photo: LA Streetsblog/Flickr

At today’s Metro Board hearing, the Board punted again on deciding whether to continue it’s exclusive contract for Light Rail cars with AnsaldoBreda.  Metro first decided to postpone a decision on the contract in March, partially because it would take less time to stick with AnsaldoBreda than it would to put the contract out to bid.  Three months later, they’re still punting because the politics of the contract remain mired in controversy. 

The argument against renewing the contract is because Breda is already late and delivering cars that are thousands of pounds overweight.  In favor of renewing the contract is Metro’s long-standing relationship with the Italian rail company and their promise that with an extended contract they can afford to build a plant in the Greater Los Angeles area.  Of course, the Board can’t consider where the cars are built in making their decision based on federal law, but if you don’t think there’s a relationship between this promise and the Board’s backflips, I have tickets to Game 6 of the NBA Finals I want to sell you.

I’m not sure how long a bidding process would take if they had went to contract, but bending over backwards to keep the contract in Breda’s hands has cost four months, and counting.

For Streetsblogs’ complete coverage of the ongoing AnsaldoBreda controversy, click here.

  • Leo

    Well said Damien, especially the part about the fact that the Board can’t take the facility offer into consideration because Federal law prohibits it. It surprises me how long it took for someone to raise that point.

    An important aspect of yesterday’s meeting however, was the fact that the Board passed Mr. Antonovich’s motion to release the Request for Proposal for the new car purchase and was surprised that considering how much press this issue has received,there was no mention of this fact anywhere. Even more astonoshing to me was that no one made mention of the verbal lashing the Mayor took from John Walsh, like the fact that he never replaced the Acting Inspector General with a permanent IP. Could it be because the Acting IP wasn’t doing any “insepecting”?

    Anyway, it looks like some people are starting to stand on their own two feet. Lets hope the trend continues.

  • Erik G.

    BREADA Transportation a subsidiary of ANSALDOBREDA an international rail manufacturer located in Italy has begun operations in the City of Pittsburg. BREDA has selected Pittsburg to manufacture light rail cars for the City of Los Angeles.

    This $185 million contract will be carried out in a 200,000 square foot facility located at the corner of Loveridge Road and Pittsburg Antioch Highway. The contract will take about 7 years to complete and BREDA will hire about 150 employees. This contract has two options for more cars that could take its value to over $400 million.

    BREDA is also meeting with BART and the California Rail Authority as well as other transit systems on the west coast and if additional contracts are awarded BREDA’s plan is to make Pittsburg a permanent manufacturing facility that could employ up to 600 people in high paying high skilled jobs.

  • Erik G.

    Rail car manufacturer offers to buy vacant Super Steel site

    GLENVILLE — An international manufacturer of rail cars is offering to buy Super Steel’s vacant locomotive manufacturing plant in the Glenville Business and Technology Park, a transportation official said.
    The San Francisco-based AnsaldoBreda Inc., a unit of AnsaldoBreda S.p.A. of Italy, tendered an offer the week of June 6 to Super Steel Products Corp. of Milwaukee, Wis., to buy the Glenville plant and its equipment, according to Walter Zmuda, director of surface transportation for the Niagara Frontier Transit Authority.


    He said the federal government plans to spend some $13 billion to upgrade the country’s railroad infrastructure, and there will be a demand for manufacturing facilities.
    “From my end, you have existing infrastructure [at Super Steel in Glenville] and you have people who worked there and are trained, and you have idle capacity and this demand that needs to be filled,” he said.
    “In the long term, there is an interest in high-speed rail, and the industry is well-positioned for investment,” Meadley said.
    Gillen said the Super Steel plant, which refurbished and manufactured freight locomotives, can easily handle the transformation to light rail work. “The building works for the transit industry,” he said.
    Glenville officials said Super Steel continues to pay property taxes on the plant.

  • Leo


    While I can guess at what the signficance is of why you cited the above excerpts from recent articles, it would no doubt greatly facilitate everyone’s comprehension if you simly stated your point!

  • Erik G.

    Sorry all,

    I just wanted to point out that both Pittsburg, CA and now Glenville, NY also think they are going to be the new main factory for Ansaldobreda.

    Funny how that conflicts with what is being posted here:

  • Leo

    Actually, that’s not an accurate statement. The other two are simply assembly facilities meaning that parts from Italy and other parts of the world will be shipped there and assembled. The plant in Los Angeles would manufacture the vehicles from the ground up.

  • Leo

    That said, it still makes no sense to open different facilities in various parts of the country.

  • Ron

    This is not “shutterfly”, where you can print the pictures in one location and then send it all over the world.
    Even when the train is actually manufactured in a different country, you always need to make sure that before it is put on “revenue service” the train is properly setup and tested.
    Because of that, and because of the “buy American” provision, rail companies usually build an assembly line in the same city where the train will be operated.
    This is pretty common knowledge on top of the fact that makes sense.

  • Wad

    It’s common knowledge, but it makes no sense.

    “Buy America” laws are policy creatures that keep jobs but at the cost of higher prices and lower quality. First, they restrict competition to only those builders willing and able to run a superflous factory. The winner now has to maintain two factories when one could handle the job just fine. The cost of the additional factory is tacked in to every order, so you’d end up with fewer product than directly importing the vehicles from abroad.

    This reduced competition also leads to dominators like Ansalobreda who learn the key to business success is conforming to the procurement process, not to delivering a quality product.

    Also, most heavy equipment manufacturers don’t open up final assembly sites every place they have a job. Metro’s single biggest bus builder is North American Bus Industries. Despite the name, NABI is a Hungarian company. The shells are built in Hungary and shipped to its final assembly point in Alabama, then delivered to customers. NABI has the largest share of the Southern California market (around 2,000 buses), yet its factory is clear across the country. It has a sales office here, but doesn’t plan to open a factory in the area.

    L.A. didn’t need Breda to finish the subway and the light rail cars here. Plus, it only offered to build a factory here on the condition that it lands the contract Metro staff have misgivings about. It would relocate a factory it has in Northern California, so it’s a zero-sum game anyway.

    I really think the county Grand Jury ought to sniff this proposal a bit.

  • hinrustjum

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