New Metro Cars for Miami from Ansaldo Breda. Is that wise?

Miami Dade Transit just got the ok to award a contract for a fleet of new Metro cars. This contract is worth about US$300 million and includes training, spare parts and a simulator. 

AnsaldoBreda of Italy was awarded this contract and plans to produce the car components in Italy, with final assembly being done in Florida.

Planning on getting new vehicles is a welcome developement: the old Budd produced vehicles were definitely showing their age. The passenger information system was virtually non existant and the units ride rough. They do have WiFi though! AnsaldoBreda promises new state of the art units with air conditioning, LED lighting, bicycle racks, modern information displays and also WiFi.

I trust that Metro Dade Transit will be satisfied with their new trains. The Washington DC Metro system has not been so happy with their, admittedly older, AnsaldoBreda 2000 series units.

Here is the Miami Dade Transit news release.

 

Forthwith a blog entry concerning AnsaldoBreda. This is from the blog "The Transport Politic":

Denmark developing backup plan in case Italian rail manufacturer can’t get its act together

reported yesterday on Los Angeles’ problems with the light rail manufacturer it chose for its Gold Line Eastside Extension. Namely, the contractor, the Italian AnsaldoBreda, which also produced the city’s heavy rail cars in the early 1990s, is more than three years late on delivering the trains it promised. Los Angeles holds an option to purchase 100 more cars at a reduced rate, but Metro’s chief argues that the order for new vehicles should be put up to competitive bid. AnsaldoBreda’s response? An offer to build a manufacturing facility in L.A., and a willingness to move its headquarters there. The problem? It has made the same offer to at least two other cities already. Facio Ficano, director of government affairs for the company,responded to criticism in the L.A. Times.

But Erik Griswold pointed me to some evidence that L.A.’s experience isn’t isolated. Denmark ordered 83 trains from AnsaldoBreda in 2003; the trains were supposed to be fully operational by 2006. And yet the company hasn’t been able to fulfill its obligations. Only eight of the trains have been delivered, and according to the Copenhagen Post, “only three are operational, and all still have problems.” The national rail company is likely to have to cancel the contract (and lose lots of money) unless AnsaldoBreda can manage to put together at least 14 vehicles by May.

I’d also like to note that back in 2005, the Washington Post reported extensively on problems with Washington Metro Breda vehicles. To put it bluntly, the company’s trains were significantly more likely to break down than those of other manufacturers in the fleet. Commenter martarider said in response to the last article that the Breda cars in Atlanta “are lemons… [and] have been plagued with problems.” The Boston Globe reported in 2007 that Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority “officials have fumed over the years that it was their worst purchase ever,” refering to a 1995 contract with AnsaldoBreda.

This company is making a bad name for itself. Transit agencies should stop buying their vehicles.

 

Miami Dade Transit Budd Rail Car (Photo by Metro Dade Transit)

Washington Metro 2000 Series AnsaldoBreda Car