Bay Area Rapid Transit’s staff recommended that its Board of Directors sign a $1.5 billion dollar contract for the next generation of trains at its board meeting Thursday.
BART will be replacing the current trains because they have been in continuous use since 1972 and are the oldest in America. BART officials deliberated over three companies’ bids for approximately a year and a half before finally selecting one company to recommend to the board, which will make its final decision on whether to sign the contract on May 10. Final recommendations were scored on the basis of both price and technical specifications of the trains, called Fleet of the Future, with price receiving the greatest weight during consideration, according to BART spokesperson Jim Allison.
Bombardier, a North American based company, won the bid due to high scores on the basis of both technical specifications and price, Allison said.
“Bombardier had the highest technical score, (making it) presumably the most reliable and safe vehicle, as well as the cheapest,” he said. “Those are compelling reasons to support that recommendation.”
A French company, Alstom, and South Korean company, Hyundai Rotem, also placed bids to build the new cars, both of which were not selected for recommendation to the board. Alstom built the original fleet of cars.
BART hopes to see 60 new cars in service by 2017, with a total of 775 cars by 2023, according to Allison.
“There will be three sets of doors per side versus the current two sets … bike racks in place for bikes and also a visual display of where you are in the system if you can’t hear the audio announcement,” said Bob Franklin, President of BART Board of Directors.
Whether or not BART board members approve the recommendation for Bombardier’s bid depends partly upon public opinion, according to Franklin, who also said that some concern had been voiced about the lack of American made content in the Bombardier bid.
Bombardier’s proposal calls for 66 percent American-made parts, while the second place bid submitted by Alston would have incorporated 95 percent of parts made in America, Franklin said.
Both Allison and Franklin said that if the board does not approve the bid, this delay will result in the reliability of BART service to be compromised in the future.
If a simple majority of the board votes against the contract, BART would start the bidding process all over again, which could take an additional 18 months and cost approximately $10 million, according to Allison.
“If we delay this contract it puts more pressure on the current vehicles which hurts Berkeley and all the cities that we currently serve,” Allison said.