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Greetings from Korea

MBTA General Manager Rich Davey on steps of new double-decker coach. Don't worry: They'll be painted silver and purple.Don't worry: They'll be painted silver and purple.

MBTA General Manager Rich Davey was in Korea this week, touring the Hyundai-Rotem plant in Changwon, which is building four test coaches for the MBTA. The T reports Davey paid his own way.

The T has a $190-million contract with the company for 75 of the double-decker cars, some of which are expected to begin rolling on local rails in December for testing, with the rest slated for delivery between next summer and the winter of 2013. Aside from the four test coaches, all will be built in a Hyundai-Rotem factory in Philadelphia - which, with any luck, will have solved the labor and manufacturing problems it's now having with coaches meant for the Philadelphia equivalent of the MBTA.

Picture this with seats and lights and windows. Photo by Rich Davey.Picture this with seats and lights and windows. Photo by Rich Davey.

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I give props to Davey- he really sets a good example and seems like a good, honest fellow.

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There is a point at which the "lead by example" thing can get a little out of hand. What kind of precedent does it set that he paid his own way for this trip? The next time a project manager needs to travel out of state as part of a multi-million dollar procurement, is this going to be thrown in his face?

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Hopefully one day the T will see itself in a financially stable place and the leading that Dave mean he earn the ability to take a few more benefits. It won't set precedent, unless you count making sacrifices for the common good of trying to run the T back a fair condition is a precedent you don't want to see.

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He was actually there on his vacation - and took time out to visit the Hyundai plant (although given that he's something of a train geek anyway, I suspect it wasn't that much of a hardship for him).

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Earlier this month, it was announced that he was donating his car to charity. Now they tell us that he's paying his own way to Korea. While in Asia, can a stop for volunteer work in tsunami ravaged Japan, followed by glowing press release, be far off? ENOUGH of this guy and the PR campaign!

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Not quite sure what the dude has ever done to you...

I for one don't have a problem with an MBTA GM who seems to be working hard at his job and is trying to be an effective communicator for his organization. I'm sure as heck not going to heckle him for doing good-works on top of it all!

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Can you explain WHY A MBTA GM SHOULDN'T BE PAYING SUPERVISORY VISITS TO MANUFACTURERS OF LARGE ORDERS? Especially when the T is likely to get better service because said manufacturers value the contact? (oh horrors - cultural sensitivity!)

I sincerely doubt you ever take the T anywhere other than Fenway Park, anyway.

You certainly don't know what a competent public official looks like if you have a problem with this guy *GASP* actually doing his job rather than riding around in a taxpayer-funded SUV and hiding from those dirty unwashed T riders and kissing arse constantly like his predicessor.

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That's who Rich Davey is. Antidote to poison of a Mayor who cares so little for the City's future he won't retire. The antidote to the venom of The Donald -that snake. And Swirly Girl and Oaf-fish-i must be a couple of SNL writers . . .

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We need the jobs. Is the problem only that labor costs are too expensive here? Or do we not even have the know-how anymore?

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Aside from the four test coaches, all will be built in a Hyundai-Rotem factory in Philadelphia

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If US workers pay as much attention as US news readers, it's no wonder...

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We used to manufacture a lot of rail cars in the U.S., actually we were the best. i.e. Pullman, Budd. But, when the government continued to subsidize auto and air travel, overregulated railroads, and cheap gasoline was abundant, private rail companies went out of business. Since then, federal and state government have always underinvested (that's a generous term) in passenger rail, leading to a lack of consistent and timely orders for new rolling stock. Almost all U.S. passenger rail manufacturers went bankrupt. We are forced to buy from foreign companies, who only assemble, not manufacture in the U.S. (due to buy America provisions). The overseas rail manufacturers can support our infrequent and specialized orders, because their respective governments provide the necessary continued investment in infrastructure. We don't manufacture passenger rail cars in the U.S. because of the lack of government investment in rail transportation.

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It should be noted that one of the largest passenger rail car suppliers in North America and the world is Bombardier, which is based in Canada. Most of their U.S. orders have shells built in Canada with final assembly at a plant in New York. That's not the U.S, but its not overseas either. Also, Japan's Kawasaki and Germany's Seimens both have U.S. plants which are capable of building rail car structural shells, not just assembling parts from their home plants.

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