Bombardier shut out of N.Y. bid because of past failures
Company says it’s working to address problems as part of turnaround efforts
Increasing delays and cost overruns by Bombardier have shut out the Quebec firm from a $3.2-billion contract with New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority.
The company confirmed Tuesday its proposal for a contract to construct up to 1,695 subway cars for the MTA is no longer under consideration.
“We are extremely disappointed as we spent considerable time developing an innovative solution that included world-class subway cars, an attractive delivery schedule, a competitive price and the creation of U.S. jobs, many in New York State,” said Eric Prud’Homme, the head of public relations and communications for the Americas region at Bombardier Transportation.
In an internal memo, Benoît Brossoit, the president of Bombardier Transport for the Americas, is quoted as noting that “our poor performance and serious delays ... sealed the fate of our bid. Our actions exacerbated an already difficult transit situation in New York, and our client’s decision shows that the market is no longer disposed to accept delays in performance and to submit to the consequences of our actions.”
The authenticity of the memo, which was first obtained by the Journal de Montréal, was confirmed by Bombardier.
“It does show (Brossoit’s) leadership; what he says in a public forum and what he says internally is the same,” Prud’Homme said. “There is a turnaround, and we’re addressing some of the issues, and we don’t take them lightly.”
The company is in the midst of a transformation, Prud’Homme said, and Brossoit is implementing a plan “to address some of the issues in North America.”
That process is starting to show results, Prud’Homme said.
In Toronto, Bombardier revised the delivery schedule for new streetcars five times between 2009 and 2016 because of delays. The company has now been making deliveries on schedule for more than a year, Prud’Homme said.
Bombardier was almost 24 months late in delivering 300 subway cars for another section of New York’s subway system.
However, Prud’Homme said the delays were not directly related.
“While each contract is unique, with its own requirements, we can say that when we do face challenges, we work with our customers to develop and implement solutions to ensure that we deliver highquality rail cars as quickly as possible,” Prud’Homme said.
“This is bad news for Bombardier,” said Karl Moore, a professor at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management.
The MTA has been a major customer for Bombardier Transportation — the two organizations have been doing business for nearly 35 years and Bombardier has made, or is currently making, almost 2,000 subway cars for the agency.
Since Alain Bellemare was appointed president and CEO in 2015, the firm has hired a new head for its Transportation division, a new chief transformation officer and Brossoit, who joined Bombardier in April.
There are signs the company has turned a corner, Moore said, such as the improvements in Toronto.
“It’s going in the right direction, but it’s not done and they’re going to pay the price for mistakes that have been made in the past for a while,” he said.
Part of the challenge is that it’s a big company that takes on big projects, Moore said.
Bombardier is seen as paying the price for its mistakes as it fell out of the running for a $3.2-billion contract to construct subway cars for the New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority.