Metro Magazine

SEP-OCT 2014

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

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Page 17 of 143

14 < m ETRO m AGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014 (it increased the price exemption to 25% for non-rolling-stock procurements, for example), it actually expanded the ex- emptions overall. For example, the 1982 law clarifed, but weakened, the domes- tic content requirement that buses and railcars need only be 50% of the con- tract value and undergo fnal assembly in the U.S. Lawmakers toughened the rules for real in 1987, this time raising the con- tent requirement for buses and railcars to 60% by 1991 and the price diferential exemption for rolling stock purchases to 25%, same as for other procurements. This law also required pre-award and post-delivery audits to ensure compli- ance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safe- ty requirements, as well as Buy America compliance, and to help grantees ensure that suppliers were complying with their own bid specifcations. Tis law also in- troduced the Altoona-accelerated bus aging tests to ensure vehicles met their stated design lives and mandated that all buses purchased at least partially with federal transit grants undergo this test- ing. The law passed in 1987 thus repre- sents the basic structure of Buy America law in place today. on its website detailed explanations of all proposed waiver determinations be- fore they are made fnal. In addition, FTA is required to submit, annually, a report to Congress listing the waivers that it is- sued during the preceding year. A faction in Congress, as well as those in the Obama Administration, are not satisfied that the MAP-21 adjustments went far enough. The Administration has been tightening existing guidance where it can, while proposing new legis- lation where such actions are required. Some of their congressional allies want even tougher restrictions. In doing what it can without legisla- tion, the Administration has issued a new interpretation of Buy America so the rules now apply to utilities reloca- tion on highway and public transporta- tion infrastructure projects. Tis move is unprecedented, as utilities and the com- panies that make the materials used in utility relocation have never been sub- ject to Buy America before, says Jeff Boothe, managing partner in the Wash- ington, D.C.-based law frm Holland & Knight, who also leads the Communi- ty Streetcar Coalition, whose members fear project delays or cancelations as po- tential results of this new interpretation. In a letter addressed to both then- FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff and then-Federal Highways Administrator Victor Mendez, a coalition of 11 indus- try groups, including those represent- ing major utilities, urged the two agen- cies to install a transition period for the new implementation, so that com- pliance can be clarified, a waiver sys- tem can be stood up, and outreach and training for members of afected indus- tries can be undertaken. "Most impor- tantly, transportation projects can move forward [without delay]," the letter said. It added: "We believe utility relocations should not be subject to Buy America re- quirements during this transition peri- od." However, the groups did not oppose the application of Buy America require- ments to transportation projects out- right ; on the contrary, they expressed their support in principle. Still, they issued this warning: Imme- diate implementation of the new policy …BUT ALSO GETS MORE LENIENT E ver since the ink was dry on the F TA's f i n a l r u l e s i m p l e m e n t - i n g t h e s e p r o v i s i o n s i n 1 9 9 1 , the agency has been trying to strike a balance between enforcement of the tougher Buy America provisions, while also ensuring they do not create a "sig- nifcant cost burden," as also required by the 1987 statute. Te "Dear Colleague" letters, and revised Buy America regula- tions implementing subsequent statu- tory modifcations to previous policies, have also wrestled with this balance, trying to clarify what the audits should be looking for, what constitutes "domes- tically manufactured components," for example, and what steps of the man- ufacturing process should be consid- ered "fnal assembly," among other re- lated issues. Because many in Congress became increasingly concerned about FTA de- cision-making regarding Buy America waivers, the recently enacted Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) tightened the public notifi- cation requirements for these waivers. The FTA must now publish waiver re- quests in the Federal Register and post BUY AMERICA BUY AMERICA China and India alone account for 60% of all new global bus demand over the next decade, according to industry data. By contrast, the U.S. transit bus market averages around 5,000 units annually, in a global annual market of a half million units of all bus types.

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