The good folks at Streetsblog do a pretty good job of rounding up transit news links, so it’s a nice way to keep up with things every day. Today was no exception – they had a link to this story in the New York Times detailing a conflict between LA MTA and Breda, the makers of the streetcars on the N-Judah line.
Breda has never had a particularly great reputation – the cars for MUNI had many problems when introduced, and Breda cars in Boston have been problematic as well (ironically in part because they were calibrated for MUNI and not for the unique needs of Boston). So it isn’t surprising the LA might want to consider its options and make sure they’re buying the right rail cars for their system.
Also, here’s a few links worth checking out: the Transbay Blog has an easy-to-read summary of the “stimulus” package for transit, and BeyondChron.org has some questions about the “stimulus” package too.
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San Francisco News & Politics
The Bredas have been working well enough for Chicago’s L and DC’s Metro. I suspect that the difference is in competent oversight of Breda. I call shens on this LA problem. From the NYT article:
“But Breda executives counter that the delays were caused by Metro’s change orders and that the decision to open bidding was influenced by a Metro official whose son works for Siemens.”
If there’s any truth to that…
Didn’t realize that Major Antonio Villaraigosa was the chairman of LA Metro. Wonder how that structure is working for them.
This is one of those cases where more digging is needed. An assertion by Breda is just that – unless they can prove somehow one official’s son is actively engaging in shenanigans to thwart Breda, it’s just a campaign slur.
An email from a reader did make a point – that the Breda of today is actually a merger of the “old” Breda and another company, which I didn’t know. So there IS that.
Greg, I believe the other company you are referring to is Ansaldo Trasporti, part of the Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica. From what I gather, Ansaldo Trasporti was a communications & signaling equipment manufacturer while Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie was a metro/tram building outfit. The combined companies is officially known as AnsaldoBreda.
Interestingly, right above the operator’s door is a sticker with the Breda nameplate and Pininfarina prominently displayed. How Breda managed to get the desginer of some Ferrari cars to design the hulking mass of the MUNI LRVs is beyond me.
Edmund — the bit about the Ferrari designer means you can tell people you “took a Ferrari here.”
The gist is that tightly drawn specs and very strict supervision during construction is a neccessity. Any contract where the vendor gets to be “creative” invites shoddy design.
Breda built subway cars for DC based on DC’s existing fleet. More recently CAF (a Spanish firm) got the contract. WMATA had to assign live in QC personnel to check everything–CAF was using out of spec axles until caught. This is not a “national” thing–an American firm supplied the inferior grade epoxy which resulted in the death of a passenger in the Big Dig tunnel. Caveat emptor!!!