Byford blasts Bombardier over subway lemons; MTA open to legal action

New York City Transit President Andy Byford. (Photo by Mark Hallum)

The MTA plans to hold Bombardier Transportation accountable for late delivery and repeated defects on a fleet of 298 R179 trains taken off the tracks because of safety concerns.

The authority updated reporters Thursday on the two incidences of doors coming slightly ajar. Officials said they hoped to have the rolling stock back in service after each car is checked.

New York City Transit President Andy Byford stated that the MTA does not believe the safety of passengers was threatened in the two incidents. He noted that it’s the first time in his 30-year career felt it was important to remove train cars from service.

The sourness over the “lemons,” as City Comptroller Scott Stringer previously described the R179s, left Byford furious at Bombardier.

“The MTA finds Bombardier’s latest and repeated failures with these cars to be wholly unacceptable. We plan to hold Bombardier accountable for this issue and for the other issues we have experienced over the course of this contract,” Byford said. “We are evaluating all legal options against Bombardier, including the best way to recover costs incurred as a result of this matter.”

On Dec. 24, a C train operating southbound near High Street in Brooklyn indicated that it was having door trouble, according to Byford. The trains are designed to lose propulsion if doors are ajar in even the slightest, and that’s what happened in this case, Byford said.

The crew identified the problem and the train was removed from service.

Bombardier informed the MTA on Jan. 2 that the internal locking mechanism was not secure and had opened no more than four inches, Byford explained.

But on Jan. 3 near the Jay St. – MetroTech station when the train door needed to be locked and later removed from service. But in this instance, the doors had not opened to a perceivable degree.

Then on Tuesday, Jan. 7, Bombardier informed the MTA that these incidents were likely more commonplace on the R179, according to Byford.

Bombardier, MTA personnel and technicians from an independent engineering firm are working to bring the rolling stock back into service.

The MTA’s $599 million contract with Bombardier dates back to 2012. But the company soon proved to be problematic not only falling far behind schedule on delivery as well as a welding defect.

MTA officials did not state whether or not Bombardier would be contracted by the agency again in the future.

This story has been updated to clarify dates as well as information about whether or not Bombardier will be involved in future MTA contracts.