FTA reaffirms Buy American on locomotive bids


The U.S. Department of Transportation's transit arm has denied a request from Boston's T to allow two pilot locomotives to be built across the pond.

A Boise company had bid against a German-Spanish firm for the large contract. The foreign firm wanted to assemble the first two locomotives in the 28-car order overseas, in violation of the Federal Transit Administration's "Buy America" requirements.

But the FTA, in a letter to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority general manager Daniel A. Grabauskas, denied a waiver of the protectionist provisions for federal funding of transit projects.

"Absent factors like safety or the introduction of significant new technology, FTA has consistently denied public interest waiver requests predicated on a cost saving of less than 25 percent," FTA Deputy Administrator Sherry E. Little wrote.

MBTA flak Joe Pesaturo told citydesk in an email that the FTA letter is still being reviewed: "Our procurement team will meet on Monday to discuss the MBTA's options, and decide what future course of action is in the best interest of the Authority, fare-payers, and Massachusetts taxpayers."

Asked whether the decision takes Vossloh España S.A. out of the running for the contract, Pesaturo repeated himself in classic Masshole e-mail form: "Our procurement team will meet on Monday to discuss the MBTA's options,and decide what future course of action is in the best interest of the Authority, fare-payers, and Massachusetts taxpayers."

The other company, Boise-based MotivePower, drew support from two members of Idaho's congressional delegation and from Boise Mayor Dave Bieter.

“It would be a travesty to use American taxpayer dollars and a loophole in American law to allow this sophisticated technology and the jobs related to it to be lost to overseas competitors. We are pleased with the FTA’s ruling,” Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo stated.