By Ryan Flanagan
Kitchener Post staff
Regional officials say they have no issues with Bombardier being given a special negotiating window for the procurement of 14 light rail transit trains. In fact, they say Bombardier is the only company able to meet the region’s specifications.
Councillors voted Tuesday to forgo a request for proposal-based procurement process in favour of adding their voice to ongoing negotiations between Metrolinx, a provincial Crown corporation which co-ordinates transit systems across Ontario, and Bombardier.
By working with Metrolinx, which is looking to purchase more than 200 LRT vehicles for Toronto’s system, the region expects to get a better price from Bombardier than if they were to order the 14 vehicles on their own.
“If we went out ourselves, it’s hard to predict what type of a premium we might pay for a small order,” said Thomas Schmidt, the region’s transportation commissioner.
Provincial funding for the LRT is contingent on the trains being Canadian-made to a certain extent. Schmidt said Bombardier’s plant in Thunder Bay is the only currently existing facility in Canada capable of producing the trains.
“If you talked to Siemens, they’d say that they’ll establish an assembly plant immediately. The reality is that they don’t have an assembly plant, and the reality is that for 14 cars, they’re not going to do that,” he said.
Councillors spoke in favour of the procurement approach.
“I think this is a very wise move,” said Coun. Sean Strickland, who said he liked the proposal for its cost-efficiency, its ability to meet the Canadian content requirement and the construction jobs it will provide Ontario.
While in favour of the procurement method, Coun. Tom Galloway asked for an assurance that the region would limit itself to purchasing the 14 trains it expects to need when the system is up and running in 2017.
“I don’t want to find out afterwards that because they’re so cheap, because this contract is so good, we’re going to add three more cars to the order,” he said.
The region expects to procure the trains for “somewhere in the range of $4 million per vehicle,” which Schmidt termed a competitive price.
Other advantages to the deal with Metrolinx, councillors were told, include savings in non-recurring costs such as the development of a request for proposals, as well as a potential opportunity for testing of the new trains to be done in Waterloo.
The end result of the negotiations will come to councillors for approval this fall.