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15-Car L.A. Transit Contract Awarded To Japanese Firm

October 6, 1992

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A Japanese firm that won a contract to build 41 cars for the new Los Angeles transit system, then lost it amid an uproar over shipping jobs overseas, has been awarded a new contract for rail cars.

The Los Angeles County Transportation Commission on Monday approved a contract to buy 15 cars from Sumitomo Corp. at a cost of $2.9 million per car.

Sumitomo said it would create 79 jobs in Los Angeles County, have 61 percent of the cars’ components made in America and give subcontracting work to 10 businesses owned by minorities or women.

The cars will be shipped partly finished from a factory in Nagoya, Japan, and completed in Los Angeles.

Last December, the commission gave Sumitomo a $121 million contract to build 41 driverless cars for the Green Line, a link to the suburbs that is part of the rail transit system Los Angeles is building.

Sumitomo’s bid was $5 million higher than one submitted by Morrison-Knudsen Corp., the only U.S. company that makes rail cars, but Sumitomo won the contract because it had more experience building driverless cars.

The decision, reached weeks before President Bush’s trade mission to Japan, caused a political firestorm and was rescinded in January. The commission then considered opening a factory in the Los Angeles area to build the cars.

The newly ordered cars will each cost as much as the transportation commission was willing to pay last year for the more technologically advanced driverless cars.

Neil Peterson, the commission’s executive director, said the higher per-car cost is due to the smaller number of cars ordered and a demand to have them ready by November 1994.

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