In a commentary, “Why Buy America Is Bad Law,” for the Niskanen Center, Fellow Alon Levy critiques the Buy America Act. They argue that the provisions have the opposite effect of supporting American industry and in the transportation industry, “inefficient infrastructure procurement harms the very working-class people that rely on public transit for transportation.” Levy provides some examples:
While the United States remains a peripheral player in transit, innovations developed elsewhere take a long time to reach here. Buying the same modular products that work elsewhere is difficult because the vendors have to effectively reproduce the manufacturing capacity in the United States, whose market is small relative to the effort this requires. In particular, American subway car technology has largely stood still since the 1980s and early 1990s. For example, recent European subway trains have what are known in industry parlance as open gangways, which permit passengers to walk through from one end of the train to another. American trains do not have open gangways and are only beginning to experiment with the technology. In fact, in San Francisco, Bay Area Rapid Transit’s Fleet of the Future is similar to a modular product running in London, Singapore, Stockholm, and Toronto, but without open gangways.