Metro Magazine

SEP-OCT 2014

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

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Page 27 of 143

24 < m ETRO m AGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014 some market segments. In the letter to Administrators Rog- off and Mendez, the CEOs conclude: "Changes to Federal 'Buy America' con- tent requirements place…companies in a difcult position of choosing between the most efficient means of delivering their products and altering their supply chains for a small percentage of sales." GROW MORE MARKET DEMAND I f more Buy America requirements are not the best way to grow U.S. public transportation jobs, what is? The most proven way demonstrat- ed time and again since the 1930s, and proven again since the early 1980s and 1990s, and even yet again with the land- mark legislation of the past decade, is when demand for more bus and rail ser- vice is increased, generating demand tracts, and the multiplier efect created in the form of additional jobs, local tax revenue and economic growth for the communities in which these business- es are located that these investments create is considerable. If new mandates undermined the public's demand for greater transportation investment at a time when the industry could contribute real solutions to the world's huge sus- tainability challenges, and thereby, cre- ate even more good-paying jobs, the lost opportunity would be a historic tragedy. As has been argued by APTA CEO Mi- chael Melaniphy and others in count- ess testimonies and reports prepared for Congress, real, long-term job creation in public transportation comes with pre- dictable funding, so that businesses can do better long-term growth planning. And no better guarantor of funding is a stable, solvent federal Mass Transit Ac- count in the Highway Trust Fund, with sufcient dedicated revenues. WILL WE BE GLOBAL OR PAROCHIAL? T h e rea l q u e st i o n t hat mu st b e answered is whether U.S. pub- lic transportation will embrace increasing globalization of the supply businesses by strengthening domestic demand, or employ a system of increas- ing incentives, penalties or a combina- tion of the two that favor more parochial interests. Policymakers continue to ask themselves this question and no answer that is satisfactory to all emerges. For 30 years, I have asked this same question in articles about a decade apart now, and I myself remain unsatisfed. In 2004 I wrote this : "We w ill soon ap - proach three decades of federal protec- tion of bus and railcar manufacturers in U.S. transit procurements. If the federal share of capital spending continues to decline, the ability of local agencies to avoid rules such as Buy America in- creases. Pressure is mounting for tough- er intervention; meanwhile, Europe and Canada are lowering their trade barri- ers. We are headed for an encounter, the outcome of which is uncertain." for new infrastructure and rolling stock. Tose who want to place greater man- dates or structured procurement incen- tives on the marketplace may, in the long run, create fewer, not more jobs. Te market distortions these proposals would cause will likely raise the prices or create delays for goods, services and projects delivered — which usually also means higher costs — or lower perfor- mance quality. Even if they are short- lived, these efects threaten to shrink job creation because fewer cars, buses and systems can be procured with the avail- able funding and potentially undermine the political case for greater public trans- portation investment if the new rules un- dermine quality and performance. Three-quarters of all federal public transportation funding already flows to the private sector in the form of con- BUY AMERICA BUY AMERICA The FTA and the Department of Commerce's manufacturing assistance programs collaborated to help the utilities fnd domestic components for the necessary utilities relocation as part of the Charlotte, N.C. streetcar project (rendering shown). Three quarters of all federal public transportation funding already fows to the private sector in the form of contracts, and the multiplier efect created in the form of additional jobs, local tax revenue and economic growth for the communities in which these businesses are located that these investments create is considerable. Cliff Henke is an assistant VP and senior analyst with Parsons Brinckerhoff. Any views expressed herein are solely his own.

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