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MBTA request federal funds is rejected

By Padraig B. Shea
Globe Correspondent / November 15, 2008
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The Federal Transit Authority has denied a request from the MBTA for matching funds to buy two new commuter line locomotives from a European company, ruling yesterday that they must be made in the United States.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority chairman Daniel A. Grabauskas, at the behest of Vossloh España S.A., a Spanish subsidiary of a German firm, requested in September that the FTA waive its "Buy American" requirements for a contract Vossloh had bid on to build the locomotives.

They argued the waiver would "expand the competitive range to include Vossloh as a . . . bidder," according to FTA Deputy Administrator Sherry E. Little's decision.

But the authority decided the T's proposal to buy the locomotives in Spain would not save enough taxpayer money to warrant a public interest waiver.

"Waiving FTA's Buy America requirements to allow for a competitive bid on price . . . alone is not in the public interest," Little wrote.

The two locomotives are part of a 28-train procurement due for 2011 that the MBTA projects will cost $186 million.

The federal government is expected to pay 80 percent, but federal law prohibits the FTA from funding projects unless they use American materials.

The only other offer to make the locomotives is from Boise firm MotivePower, Inc., a subsidiary of Wabtec.

The T is reviewing the FTA's decision and has not picked a bidder yet, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo wrote in a statement.

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