AC Transit Made Right Choice to Finally Buy Local

For more than a decade, AC Transit made a mockery of federal Buy American rules. The cash-strapped transit agency routinely wrapped itself in financial knots, funneling US taxpayer funds through various accounts in order to be able to buy expensive foreign-made buses. AC Transit officials repeatedly claimed that the Belgian-made Van Hools were superior to American buses, even though the agency’s own records showed that the Van Hools were accident-prone and dangerous for riders with mobility problems. AC Transit officials also downplayed the numerous posh trips they took to Belgium and their side excursions to Paris and London, arguing that $1 million in public funds they spent on the getaways merely represented the costs of doing business.

Gillig bus
  • Gillig bus
But then earlier this month, AC Transit, which now has a new general manager who appears to be more interested in making pragmatic choices rather than jetting off to Europe, officially ended its costly relationship with Van Hool. The agency’s board of directors, at the urging of new General Manager David Armijo, voted 6-1 to buy forty buses from an East Bay bus-maker – Gillig of Hayward. It was the first time that AC Transit had bought an American-made bus, let alone one made locally, in more than a dozen years. And it was about time.

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