PLATTSBURGH — Nova Bus is planning to expand its Plattsburgh plant and produce a new interior bus design.
Nova Bus Marketing Director Nadine Bernard said the company is investing in transit buses fueled by compressed natural gas.
"We know the demand for natural gas (buses) will be higher in the years to come," she said.
Bernard told the Press-Republican the company would invest between $2 million and $4 million to upgrade its Plattsburgh plant so the compressed natural gas buses could be assembled there.
She said work should start next year, although that depends on securing orders for the buses.
Nova Bus recently unveiled a new interior design for its transit buses, based on client and focus group feedback.
The feedback includes complaints about cramped conditions on buses operated by the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority, as reported by the New York Post last year.
The new design incorporates features found in the aerospace and rail transportation industries.
"What we wanted to do was really improve and increase the aesthetic design and make the vehicle more accessible," Bernard said.
The company has reconfigured and repositioned some equipment, which increased headroom and improved access to components for easier maintenance.
A new ceiling system uses integrated tiles with designated locations for speakers, spotlights or cameras. It allows for easier access to electrical panels.
The new ceiling also has about 15 percent more space for advertising, so customers could increase revenue from that.
Light-emitting diode lights are available, and the escape hatches are now more transparent. The company states that gives Nova Bus the best ambient light in the industry.
The hardware used to connect components has been recessed, which prevents snagging and makes cleaning easier.
Up front, the driver's partition is thinner, increasing room for the driver and passengers.
In the back, the electrical panel is larger to accommodate future expansion. The engine access panel is also bigger and now allows access to both sides of the engine.
An LCD screen powered by a GPS system is available. It can provide passenger information or even alert riders to the presence of a coffee shop near an upcoming stop.
RAISED THE BAR
Bernard said the redesign has been well received by transit authorities.
"They felt we really raised the bar," she said.
Bernard said that design will be incorporated in some buses that will be assembled in Plattsburgh this summer.
Two buses with the new interior are to be built for the University of Alabama, and seven are for the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority.
The latter saw examples of the new design at a trade show last October.
"They fell for it," Bernard said.
— Contributing Writer Jason Cerone contributed to this report.