Metro Magazine

SEP-OCT 2014

Magazine serving the bus and rail transit & motorcoach operations since 1904

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Page 141 of 143

FTA proposes to extend Buy America to overhauls While the FTA regulation differentiating between Buy America compliance for overhauled railcars and buses and how the rules cover remanufactured equip- ment was bad enough, it now wants to disallow use of Bus and Bus Facilities grants for overhauls. Like the previous rulemaking, the proposal doesn't take into account how agencies operate and maintain their rolling stock. FTA fails to understand this is a blurry line in practice and may result in agencies deferring vital maintenance. That could undermine safety and reliability. It certain- ly won't create any new jobs, and few parts and components orders might actual- ly lead to some layoffs. Some have said the Buy America rule that was finalized two years ago already has reduced aftermarket orders. In the letter that APTA wrote in comment on the proposed new policy, "FTA has itself noted the staggering amount of maintenance that has been deferred throughout the public transportation industry" because of its focus on State of Good Repair. However, "As a practical matter, most major maintenance events tend to add useful life to a vehicle beyond initial expectations." The comment peri- od on this proposed guidance has ended, but for those concerned about this, keep reaching out to FTA anyway. Communication, not cost, is key We need to step up the education effort of those in the administration. We need to tell them that we are on their side; we want to create jobs too. But, new interpreta- tions of old laws and proposed new laws will only undermine that effort by creating higher costs, fewer sales and smaller markets. We urgently need to step up the effort of how our private sector businesses, where three out of every four dollars that Con- gress appropriates and FTA sends to public transportation end up in the form of or- ders, really work. In recent months, the FTA has tightened Buy America enforcement, including extending it to cover areas it never had covered before, such as the new components in any relocation of utilities that may be in the right-of-way of rail and bus projects. Tey argue they have authority under existing law, even though a sis- ter federal transportation agency said it didn't until the current authorizing legislation was passed just two years ago. And as Clif Henke points out in the cover story for this issue, some in Congress want to go even further. According to Henke, these eforts will only likely achieve the opposite efect of what they intend, because they fundamentally misunderstand how our business works — and that is on us. 138 < m ETRO m AGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014 publisher's perspective Te increased Buy America attention ignores reality Frank Di Giacomo, Publisher frank.digiacomo@ "We need to step up the education efort of those in the administration. We need to tell them that we are on their side: we want to create jobs too."

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