Losing bidders file protests over rail contract

Andrew Robbins
Andrew Robbins

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two companies that lost bids for Honolulu's rail project filed formal protests on Monday. The city awarded Ansaldo Honolulu a $574 million contract for train cars and a system control center. The company will also operate and maintain the rail system.

"We offered the best value proposal to the city and we would have received the highest score, and of course, the other shock was that we were disqualified right at the 11th hour," said Andrew Robbins, vice president of Business Development & Sales at Bombardier Transportation.

Robbins said the city improperly disqualified Bombardier's bid due to a clarification that was included in earlier versions of its proposal.

"Nothing specific was told to us about that item, that clarification, being a potential disqualifier," said Robbins.

Sumitomo Corporation of America said the city failed to take into account the total cost over the course of the project, not just the initial design build phase.

"The Sumitomo proposal, amongst many, many things, would have saved the city $900 million over the life-cycle of the end product," said Gino Antoniello, Sumitomo's vice president of Transportation Systems and Equipment.

The city had said Ansaldo was selected through the procurement process based on best value which is determined by evaluating all relevant criteria in addition to price. Ansaldo had the lowest design build price, but adding in operations and maintenance brings the total cost of the contract to $1.4 billion.

"Their design build price is significantly lower than both ourselves and one of the other competitors," said Antoniello. "So you've got a very low design build price and a very high operational and maintenance price."

City officials said they received the protests and will review them according to the procurement law. The complaints prompted City Councilman Tom Berg to introduce a resolution urging the city to start the process over again.

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