The End of Van Hool Buses?



The AC Transit Board of Directors will consider a resolution on Wednesday that could spell the end of the agency's controversial partnership with Belgian bus-maker, Van Hool. The so-called "Buy America" resolution by board member Elsa Ortiz would direct the agency's staff to "employ its best efforts" to procure goods made in America, and give first priority to California-made products. According to the Berkeley Daily Planet, the board's three member Finance and Audit Committee approved the resolution last week.

AC Transit has come under heated criticism in recent years for purchasing hundreds of Van Hool buses at a time when the agency has had to slash service and raise fares repeatedly and despite the fact that the Belgian buses are more expensive than some American models. The buses also have proven dangerous for the elderly and for people with mobility problems and bus drivers dislike them because they don't handle well. In addition, top AC Transit officials acknowledged last month that some of the Van Hool models have been accident prone.

According to AC Transit documents, state Senator Loni Hancock of Berkeley also supports the Buy America resolution as does the Alameda Labor Council. The resolution notes that California and the nation are experiencing high unemployment rates and that local public agencies should do all they can to promote domestic manufacturing.