OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Bay Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors awarded a contract Thursday to build the next fleet of BART cars to a Canadian firm amid controversy over how much of the new cars would be made in the USA.

Montreal-based Bombardier came out on top in a months-long bidding process, beating out French firm Alstom following a staff recommendation and Thursday’s 9-0 vote by the BART board.

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The $896 million contract is the first phase of a $2.5 billion project to replace all 669 BART cars which the transit agency said are the oldest in the nation.

Union activists were on hand at Thursday’s meeting in Oakland to oppose the vote for the Bombardier bid, pointing out the cars would be assembled with 66% American-made parts, versus the 95% American-made parts pledged by Alstom.

BART officials said the Bombardier bid was $184 million less than other bidders, independent evaluators rated the bid higher and that the cars would be 100% assembled in America.

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KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

“We’re still in a jobs crisis and we believe that they should invest our tax dollars with a company that will create jobs here in America,” said Lisa Hoyos with the BlueGreen Alliance, which unites 12 of the country’s largest unions and environmental organizations.

Both Bombardier and Alstom have manufacturing plants in New York.

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