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Jan 24, 2019

NYC transit chief slams Bombardier, halts deliveries: 'You have to hold their hands'

Once a high-flyer, Bombardier is now a laggard — what happened?

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Bombardier Inc. (BBDb.TO) said it is in the final stages of approving a “technical solution” to fix existing New York City Transit train cars, after the transit agency said it will stop taking new deliveries from the Canadian rail and aerospace manufacturer.

“We understand the frustration and we own the issue,” Bombardier spokesman Eric Prud’Homme said in an email to BNN Bloomberg. 

“We are in the final stages and working with NYC Transit to approve the technical solution to return the trains to service. We expect this to happen shortly.”

According to a Reuters report, NYC Transit President Andy Byford told a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) committee meeting this week that the transit service has stopped accepting deliveries after a number of Bombardier’s R179 subway cars were pulled from service partly because of air compressor software defects.

Prud’Homme said NYC Transit indicated it will resume taking deliveries once Bombardier has fixed the issue.

Bombardier has delivered more than 160 rail cars to NYC Transit to date, Prud’Homme said. In 2012, New York City ordered 300 R179 subway cars for about US$600 million, with the original completion of delivery set for early 2017.

This isn't the first time Byford has faced challenges with Bombardier. In his previous role as head of the Toronto Transit Commission he expressed frustration with delayed streetcar deliveries.

“It’s grueling. You have to stay on [Bombardier’s] case,” Byford said at the MTA meeting this week. “You have to hold their hands. You have to cajole them. You have to apply liquidated damages, which we’ve been doing.

“You have to make it clear to them that they’re not going to get another contract the way they’re going.”

Shares in Bombardier were up more than two per cent on Friday, after closing 4.46 per cent lower - or 9 cents - at $1.93 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday.