By Andrew Edwards, March 27, 2014
This bus is produced by BYD which canceled a $12.1 million contract to produce 10 electric buses for Long Beach Transit.
LONG BEACH >> Long Beach Transit’s board voted unanimously
during a special meeting this morning to cancel its contract with bus
manufacturer BYD Motors for the provision of 10 electric buses.
decision, made in agreement with BYD itself, was made about one year
after board members voted to give BYD the contract in the first place.
Federal Transit Administration officials have asserted that BYD should
not have been awarded the contract at the time because the company was
not yet eligible to participate in contracts financed by federal grant
funds. The now-cancelled $12.1-million deal with BYD depended on $9.6
million from Washington.
The board’s vote this morning makes it possible for Long Beach
Transit to reopen the contract to new competition, which may now include
BYD and other competitors.
“Federal funding is still available,” board chairwoman Freda Hinsche Otto said after the vote was taken on Monday.
members cast their votes after meeting behind closed doors for several
minutes. Board members did not publicly debate the merits of the
Long Beach Transit spokesman Kevin Lee said
after the vote was official that agency staffers will likely spend two
to three months to prepare for a new round of bidding.
“In an effort to demonstrate our good will to both the people of
Long Beach and the FTA, we have agreed to mutually terminate the Long
Beach Transit contract so it can be re-bid without delay,” BYD Motors
CEO Stella Li said in a statement.
“We are confident that we will
prevail in any competitive re-bid in the future for the same reason we
prevailed last year: Our superior technology,” her statement continued.
is a Chinese-based firm that maintains its North American headquarters
in Los Angeles. The company has pledged to manufacture the buses that
were to be assembled for Long Beach in Lancaster.
South Carolina-based Proterra was the second place finisher in
last year’s bidding. The GOP-controlled House Committee on Oversight
& Government Reform has requested documents from Long Beach Transit
as part of an inquiry as to whether former Vice President Al Gore, a
Democrat, inappropriately lobbied local officials prior to last year’s
contract vote. Gore is now part of an investment firm that has invested
Long Beach Transit CEO Kenneth McDonald, who was not
with the agency when BYD won the contract last year, said after the
meeting that he was not aware of any attempts by the former vice
president to lobby board members since the contract vote last March.
Lee said Long Beach Transit is cooperating with the congressional
inquiry, which thus far has been essentially a request for records. Lee
said no administrators nor board members have been deposed as part of