July 19, 2010
The classifieds in this issue offer a diverse group of jobs including a transit general manager and several other executive positions!
GAO: APTA, DOT Can Help Maximize Cost Savings
A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to the Senate Banking Committee calls for a partnership between DOT and APTA to develop a process that will allow public transportation agencies with similar needs to participate in joint procurement and identify additional opportunities for standardization, especially for new systems.
The report, titled Potential Rail Car Cost-Saving Strategies Exist, examines ways that transit agencies can economize on the purchase of rolling stock at a time when they may pay more than $3 million per car, often using federal funds. It includes characteristics of the U.S. market for transit rail cars, the federal government’s role in funding and setting standards for them, and the challenges transit agencies face when procuring them.
GAO determined the characteristics of the U.S. market for transit rail cars by reviewing the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) National Transit Database and the APTA database to determine the number and types of passenger transit rail cars in the U.S., and interviewing officials from 23 of the 54 U.S. rail transit agencies as of 2008, along with rail car manufacturers, transit agency consultants, and FTA and APTA staff. The report also incorporates worldwide rail car data and interviews with manufacturers, transit officials, and officials from railway associations.
The office discovered that “U.S. demand for transit rail cars is limited and erratic” and that U.S. transit rail cars comprise about 5 percent of the worldwide fleet. Transit agencies often seek custom car designs to deal with legacy infrastructure requirements and interoperability issues with existing fleets, or simply for preference.
The report noted that the Federal Railroad Administration’s safety standards apply to commuter rail cars and that FTA has provided funds to help APTA develop voluntary standards for light and heavy rail vehicles. Congress currently is considering legislation introduced by DOT that would give FTA more regulatory authority in relation to rail transit safety.
“Market challenges still exist, including the small size of many orders that may affect price. Joint procurements, whereby transit agencies combine orders, can help them increase their order sizes; however, they can only combine orders if a design exists that meets both agencies’ needs,” GAO stated.
The report is available here.