Sunday, September 03, 2006

L'Affaire Bombardier

The TTC (i.e. the nine city councilors who sit on the Commission) have voted to approve the award of a contract for replacement subway cars to Bombardier - without having allowed competitors to make proposals. Of course, the likes of TTC chair Howard Moscoe (a.k.a. resident windbag) and Moscoe-lite Adam Giambrone are spouting off about what a great deal it is.

Yes - they did get some outside consultants to bless the deal. This is no surprise. Consultants know what side the bread is buttered on. They would never in a million years concluded that the decision needed to be reconsidered - because they would certainly never get any work at The City of Toronto again. As one of my classmates put it in B-School : "Give me Lotus 123 and a few hours and I can make any company look good" - well the same is true for anything transit related.

Giambrone - who was caught getting election help from Bombardier - is brazen enough to defend the decision in today's Toronto Star (Giambrone - OP ED - Sept 2 2006). Write Giambrone:

Justice Denise Bellamy, in her report on the city's computer purchasing scandal, points out that "if a government's policy gives priority to the local economy, a large procurement decision might properly favour a company that is a bit more expensive but local, so that tax dollars stimulate the local economy."

Firstly, Thunder Bay isn't local. Obviously, Thunder Bay didn't think of Mississauga as local when it purchased low-floor buses from a Quebec company - despite the fact that there is a bus supplier in Ontario. Furthermore, there is no way to tell if a local supplier is 'a bit more' or 'a lot more' expensive without actually allowing different suppliers to quote.

Giambrone goes on:

Transit agencies do this because transit vehicle purchases are incredibly complex and customized. It's best to work with a manufacturer to achieve the product you want more quickly than you otherwise would......We already have Bombardier cars, and they've served us well for many decades. There's value in continuing to use a tested, trusted product. And in this case, that product is a good value at a good price for the residents and transit riders of Toronto.

However, the Thunder Bay plant has a poor record of being able to deliver. Montreal's MR-63 cars - made by Vickers - have far outlasted Thunder Bay sourced subway cars. Bombardier's Thunder Bay plant is also the source of the TTC's disastrous streetcar fleet.

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