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April 17, 2012 > AC Transit buys new coaches from Gillig

AC Transit buys new coaches from Gillig

First purchase under "Buy American Goods" policy

In line with its strict "Buy American Goods" policy, the AC Transit Board of Directors recently agreed to purchase as many as 40, low-floor coaches from the Gillig Corporation, a local bus manufacturer in Hayward.

In total, the 40-foot long, diesel-fueled buses will cost $16.4M - with $8.2M in agency funds being matched by $8.2M from the State Local Partnership Program.

Board President Elsa Ortiz, who authored the agency's "Buy American Goods" policy in 2009, is especially gratified because the bus purchase is expected to stimulate the local economy by providing jobs for scores of local residents.

"I'm happy that we're not only buying America but buses made in this District," Ortiz said. "We don't need to go overseas to buy buses when we have people, who need work and produce a high-quality product at a competitive price, in our own backyard."

A prototype of the new bus is expected to be delivered to the agency by the end of 2012 and several of the buses are expected to be in service in early 2013.

Noting that the nation was experiencing one of its worst recessions since the 1930s, the Board's 2009 "Buy American Goods" policy directs the agency to "...employ its best efforts to procure goods manufactured in America and when possible give first priority to goods manufactured in California... "

"I'm delighted an American manufacturer competed successfully for this contract with the agency and am especially pleased it is in my District" said Board member Mark Williams who represents the Hayward area.

The Gillig Corporation is an American bus manufacturer employing more than 500 East Bay workers. With a financial stimulus package from the Obama Administration, it has been able to retain its workforce during tough economic times and has even added to its work force.

"This is great news for our workers,'' said David Bloch, political coordinator for the Teamsters Union which represents the Gillig workforce.

"Gillig is the foremost transit bus supplier in the United States and has been, and continues to be, the dominant supplier in North America, supplying more US transit districts, such as Santa Clara, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Livermore, Tri-Delta, etc., than any other bus manufacturer," stated Gillig CEO Denny Howard. "The AC Transit order represents about 13 days of production; our employees are extremely satisfied with this order because their families can once again ride on a Gillig bus locally."

Howard also notes that unemployment and debt are the two biggest problems in the United States, today. At some point, people will have to seriously consider purchasing American-made products to boost domestic consumption and keep tax dollars in the US, tax dollars in California and jobs in the United States. AC Transit's contract and "Buy American Goods" policy are signs of recognition.

"The City of Hayward has been very supportive of Gillig's presence in Hayward. Mayor Michael Sweeney, former City Manager Greg Jones and Economic Development Manager Sean Brooks have all visited Gillig," added Howard.

Howard finds it remarkable that businesses continue to leave the US and few try to stop them. When NUMMI left, there was some discussion but ultimately such an exodus equates to a loss of jobs.

"We have more than 250 customers and seek a long-term relationship with them all. We've done business with some for 35-40 years. Given the terms associated with federal funding of transportation, Gillig must bid on all contracts with transit agencies. We're pleased to have won the AC Transit contract," concluded Howard.

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