Portland Transport has some great shots of the new Oregon Ironworks facility where they are assembling streetcars. The cars are designed by Skoda, the Czech company that produced the SLU streetcar, and are assembled from some parts produced abroad. The FTA has a “Buy American” rule that requires at least half of the price of transit equipment funded by FTA money to be spent in America. The Oregon Ironworks satisfies the “Buy America” rule.
Sound Transit’s Link EMUs have similar construction arrangement. Most of the parts are produced in Japan and brought to a Boeing-owned building in Everett and assembled by Kinkisharyo.
I’ve got a suggestion for Congress. We know that the global auto industry produces far more cars than there is demand, and especially need. This was true before the recession started, and is even more true now. Congress has approved $50 billion in bailouts for the Big Three automakers in just the last six months. Rather than spend ever more money on bailouts for automakers, why not spend that money on creating a home-grown train car construction industry? Obviously it won’t provide a job for every GM employee, but it has better long-term prospects than dumping more money into the Big Three money pit. Especially if the Federal Government wants to invest in mass transit systems.