AVTA-BYD bus contract is amended
Limits on buying Chinese goods looming
LANCASTER — The Antelope Valley Transit Authority’s Board of Directors agreed to amend its contract with BYD Coach & Bus last week in anticipation of a proposed ban against using federal dollars to buy Chinese buses and railcars that is making its way through Congress.
The proposed ban is included in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2020.
The House of Representatives passed H.R. 2500 and the Senate passed S. 1790. Both bills contain language prohibiting the use of federal transit dollars for procurement of electric rail cars from Chinese State Owned Enterprises, and other state-owned companies. The Senate version also applies to buses while the House version does not.
The Trump Administration earlier this month issued an official endorsement of the ban that includes Chinese buses and railcars.
BYD is a publicly traded company with 60% of its stock owned by U.S. investors including Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. However, the company receive subsidies from the Chinese government, which would make it subject to the proposed ban.
AVTA’s amended contract with BYD Coach & Bus would extend the transit agency’s contract with BYD for three years through June 30, 2023, with an overall increase of five battery electric buses for a total fleet of 90 buses.
“By us amending the contract and doing it this way, it allows us to do that prior to that bill going into effect,” AVTA Chairman Marvin Crist said.
The BYD Coach & Bus manufacturing plant in Lancaster employs 750 people. Those union jobs could go away if the proposed ban goes into effect.
“They can buy houses; they can buy cars. They’re just not surviving anymore they’re being part of
the economy,” Crist said.
BYD competitors Proterra and New Flyer, not surprisingly, have endorsed the ban.
Crist met with Proterra representatives at a transit convention in Houston several years ago.
“I went through all of the buses and looked at them. Proterra’s didn’t perform as well because we have such large mileages,” Crist said.
Crist added Proterra’s electric buses are better suited for smaller jurisdictions such as Simi Valley, which has 15 square miles, than the Antelope Valley.
“We need buses that can travel over 100, 150 miles,” Crist said.
BYD Coach and Bus’ contract with the Antelope Valley Transit Authority has been amended in the wake of the proposed ban on using federal dollars to buy Chinese buses and railcars.