As subway delays go, this one is a biggie. City Comptroller Scott Stringer blasted the MTA for not getting timely delivery of nearly 300 subway cars it purchased from the Bombardier company under a $599 million contract.
"They ignored clear warning signs, they failed to enforce deadlines, they delayed on enacting penalties,” Stringer said. “In other words, they gave Bombardier a pass."
The MTA signed the contract in 2012. The deal required Bombardier to deliver 300 R 179 subway cars by January, 2017, for the A, C, J and Z lines.
But the company only delivered 18 of the cars by the deadline. The MTA says it is still waiting for two cars under the original deal, plus 18 more the company agreed to kick in because of its failures.
"And what does it mean for straphangers? More delays. More breakdowns of outdated cars," Stringer said.
The audit says the company repeatedly fell behind in meeting contract milestones, but that the MTA waited years to enforce contract compliance, and only conducted three of the seven annual contract evaluations as required by its own guidelines.
Stringer's audit also accuses Bombardier of shoddy workmanship, saying its cars repeatedly failed qualification tests.
On average, the cars are breaking down more frequently than cars running since the mid-1980s. Twenty of the new cars are not in service now because of problems with emergency brakes, doors, heating and ventilation.
"Bombardier let the MTA down, Bombardier let New Yorkers down, that's why we held them to account and that's why I have been meeting with them on a regular basis,” said Andy Byford, who oversees bus and subway service for the MTA. “That's why we will continue to hold their feet to the fire until the very last trains are delivered later this month."
The MTA estimates that it has spent $35 million keeping old trains from breaking down as they waited for the new Bombardier cars.
In a statement Bombardier says it disagrees with some of the findings, but adds, "We are fully committed to honoring our commitments to NYCT and are taking every measure necessary to ensure that we do."
The audit report did issue recommendations to both the MTA and Bombardier, the big one being for the MTA to promptly enforce clauses in the contract to minimize delays in the future.