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Losing rail bidder seeks more details on winner

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Bombardier Transportation, one of the two losing bidders for the contract to build Hono­lulu’s rail transit cars, is asking the city for more information on the winning company’s contract.

Andrew Robbins, Bombardier’s Hawaii proj­ect manager, said publicly available copies of Ansaldo Hono­lulu’s winning proposal contain more redactions by the city than proposals submitted by his company and by Sumi­tomo Corp. of America.

Ansaldo’s operation and maintenance dollar amounts were visible, but text indicating how the company broke down its costs were blacked out. Bombardier is asking the city to either release the information or provide the same level of information it disclosed for the other bidders. Bombardier’s proposal outlines operations and maintenance costs in an annual breakdown through 2029.

City Budget Director Michael Hansen said in an email: “The level of redaction is determined primarily by the amount of information that the offerors identify as being confidential, financial and proprietary information, which the offerors are allowed to do under the procurement law.

“The city followed all procurement procedures as required by law and the contract was awarded accordingly.”

Ansaldo’s overall contract value was $1.4 billion, while Bombardier’s was about $1.2 billion and Sumi­tomo’s was $1.45 billion. A Sumi­tomo executive said earlier this week the company intents to file a protest.

Robbins, who is also vice president of business development and sales for the Canadian-based company, said Bombardier has not ruled out a protest, but will wait for a debriefing meeting with the city before deciding. His sticking point is what the city characterized as a “condition” in the company’s proposal that disqualified Bombardier in late February.

“It had to do with a liability issue in the contract,” Robbins said, declining to be more specific because the procurement proc­ess is still under way. “We don’t really have an issue with the (liability) issue. It was more the way it was drafted in the (request for proposals). We felt that it was confusing and really faulty language.”

He said the company had discussed the matter with the city when it submitted its first proposal in June.

“If I thought it was a disqualifying issue, I would’ve dealt with it or possibly not submitted a bid,” Robbins said. “I wouldn’t have wasted all that time and money going through three proposals and putting our people through such hard work.”

Robbins argued his company offered the best overall value. But Ansaldo Hono­lulu offered the lowest price — $574 million — to design and build the train cars. That part of the contract is part of the proj­ect’s $5.5 billion capital costs, expected to be paid through the general excise tax surcharge and federal funds.

“I think we just got pushed aside because they (city officials) really wanted that low design-build price,” Robbins said. “Because that’s what’s important to the feds.”

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