AVTA-BYD bus con­tract is amended

Lim­its on buy­ing Chi­nese goods loom­ing

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Front Page - By JULIE DRAKE Val­ley Press Staff Writer

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.

Val­ley Press files

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.

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