Novabus, headquartered in Canada, will build hundreds of new buses at its plant in Plattsburgh over the next three years.
As Brian Mann reports, that will allow the company's American employees to go back to work full-time.
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Over the last couple of years, Congress and the Obama administration have been cutting back on transportation spending. At the same time, cities and suburban communities around the US have faced fierce budget crunches – all that has meant fewer orders for new fleets of buses, says Novabus’ Plattsburgh Plant manager Jim Tooley, which is why this order from New York’s MTA is so important.
"This particular opportunity comes at a time when we at Nova Bus Plattsburgh really need it and at a time when there have not been the normal amount of tenders for products like ours, due to the fact that Federal funding for transportation projects have not been renewed as they normally were prior to 2009."
Most of the Plattsburgh plant’s 207 workers have been working part time since last September, getting by on a combination of hours worked at the plant and a special part-time unemployment program offered by New York state.
Tooley says the chance to really get back to work is huge.
"The response was wonderful, smiles and cheers. We've been waiting for this kind of news since we went on the Workshare program last September. So you could tell the happiness, the relief, in people's faces, in their smiles."
Workers will be assembling low emission diesel buses, the kind with a big hinge in the middle, each worth around 700 thousand dollars. Work will ramp up this August and will continue through the next three years.
Tooley is convinced that after delivering this shipment of buses to New York’s Metroplitan Transit Authority, other cities might eventually look at Novabus as well.
"Three articulared buses can replace four standard buses and carry equivalent, if not more, passengers. So consequently, they'll be operating less miles, consuming less fuel. That is certainly one of a transit operators largest expenses."
Plattsburgh has worked to develop itself as a major hub for Canadian companies doing business in the US. Plattsburgh town supervisor Bernie Bassett told the Press-Republican newspaper that the MTA contract is “very positive for our on-going marketing.”