On April 23, The North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (NFRMPO) VanGo program requested a Buy America waiver from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). As a result of a decision by the FTA to rescind the Buy America waiver for minivans, the VanGo program would have been unable to meet the FTA requirement for a 7-8 passenger vanpool vehicle that efficiently moved workers while maximizing the use of federal funds. No American-made van met the NFRMPO's requirements.
On Aug. 1, the FTA, in accordance with 49 U.S.C. 5323(j)(3)(A), provided notice of the waiver request and sought public comment before deciding whether to grant the request. If granted, the waiver would be for the Buy America final assembly requirement only and would apply only to the FTA-funded procurement by NFRMPO. The public comment period closed on Sept. 4, and the FTA notified the NFRMPO that a decision would be forthcoming later in 2013.
On Nov. 21, the FTA waived its Buy America final assembly requirement for the NFRMPO’s procurement of minivans for NFRMPO’s vanpool (“VanGo”) program. The waiver is limited to a single purchase not to exceed 25 seven-eight passenger minivan vehicles to take place no later than Dec. 31, 2014.
Both of Colorado’s U.S. Senators, The Hon. Michael Bennet and The Hon. Mark Udall were instrumental in assisting the NFRMPO in their filing, request and granting of a waiver from the FTA.
"Hundreds of Coloradans traveling throughout northern Colorado and to Denver count on the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization's vanpool program for rides to work," U.S. Sen. Mark Udall said. "I was honored to help this agency cut through the red tape to acquire the vans it needs to keep these Coloradans on the road. The Federal Transit Administration's decision, spurred on by my work, ensures this continued commuting opportunity for area residents, reduced congestion on Colorado's highways and fewer hazardous emissions."
“The FTA’s decision reflects a commonsense approach to VanGo’s good-faith efforts to comply with the intent of the law in a way that carefully considers vehicle cost and availability, and maximizes taxpayer dollars,” U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet said. “This decision will allow VanGo to better serve hundreds of commuters in Northern Colorado who want to get to work in an affordable, environmentally friendly manner.”