Friday, 1 October 2010

Maybe Those Montreal Métro Cars Will Finally Arrive: Why You Should Be Up Front from the Beginning in Calling for Bids

When are we going to get new Métro cars? Reports are that an international call for bids on them has been delayed for a week, while the Société de transports de Montréal and the consortium Bombardier-Alstom negotiate a contract and the provincial government prepares legislation that will remove this transaction from requirements that the bidding process be opened,

The saga goes back four years when things looked ripe for Bombardier to get the whole contract, but Allstom protested in court. The upshot that the French firm was included in the deal which was enlarged, in part because it became clear that more cars were needed. Under existing legislation that meant a larger call for bids, and two other firms, one Chinese and the other Spanish, said they wanted in on the action and went to court to be included.

Four years later, the contracts have not been awarded and things are really mired down. This morning on Radio-Can, the transportation commentator said that the cars--some of which are more than 40 years old--are kept in use because of the skill of STM mechanics who have been masters at coming up with replacement parts.

The proposed special legislation would supposedly open the way to finally going ahead with the award of contracts: the two outsiders who want to bid would not have recourse to international courts because "free trade" treaties are not in effect with their home countries. Had one of them been US based, that would not be the case under NAFTA.

I'm not one to condone sweetheart deals--and the Bombardier bid had elements of that from the beginning--but we need those cars if we are to keep the Métro running. At the moment it's estimated to offer more than a million trips per day, and that figure should be encouraged to increase.

1 comment:

lagatta à montréal said...

I'm certainly not favourable to sweetheart deals, but wouldn't the Bombardier deal at least have the merit of providing skilled work here in Québec? And we desperately need more métro cars. I'm thrilled that Laval residents have been far keener to take public transport to work and study in Montréal than anticipated, but it means that métro cars on the orange line are saturated before they reach Jean-Talon.