Press-Republican

May 1, 2013

Nova Bus lands major contract

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Nova Bus has won a contract to build 300 buses for the Chicago Transit Authority, with an option for 150 more.

The authority has agreed to purchase 300 buses for not more than $148 million, to be manufactured at the Nova Bus plant in the Town of Plattsburgh. Nova Bus is expected to deliver a prototype to the CTA in December and begin full production in February 2014.



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Nova Bus President Jean-Pierre Baracat announced the contract Tuesday morning.

“We look forward to helping CTA modernize their fleet to provide a reliable and world-class service,” he said in a press release. “We thank them for their renewed trust in our company and vehicles.”

Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool said continued investment and upkeep of the bus fleet there is critical in keeping the City of Chicago moving.

“These new buses will replace existing buses nearing the end of their useful life and will ensure the CTA continues to provide safe and reliable service through a modernized fleet,” he said in the statement.

SPECIAL FEATURES

The new LFS Smart buses will be 40 feet long and have 37 seats. They will feature collection equipment for the Chicago Transit Authority’s new Ventra fare system, which is scheduled to start this summer.

The buses will also have LED lighting, multiple security cameras and improved fuel efficiency. They will meet current EPA emissions standards and exceed all Americans With Disabilities Act requirements, the press release said.

The vehicles will also be equipped with the Nova eCooling system, which eliminates engine overheating. The system uses minimal energy and reduces fuel consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions.

The reinforced shells are designed to provide increased protection to passengers and drivers. Test results show the Nova LFS surpasses transportation-industry crash-worthiness standards, the release said.

PARTNERSHIPS

The Chicago Transit Authority plans to use the buses to replace Nova LFS buses that have been in service for 14 years.

The design was inspired by aerospace and rail transportation to provide a comfortable ride and easy maintenance, according to the release.

“Our goal is to combine the best of manufacturer and operator field expertise,” Baracat said. “Each city has its own reality. Buses operate 24/7 in highly variable conditions. Consequently, we continuously work in partnership with our customers to provide proven and tailored buses that are built to last.”

‘GREAT NEWS’

North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said the Chicago Transit Authority is now a major customer of both of the region’s mass-transportation equipment suppliers; Bombardier announced an $331 million order for 300 railcars in 2011. 

Bombardier spokeswoman Maryanne Roberts said that contract came after an original order for 406 railcars in 2006 and was followed by an order for eight more earlier this year. She said they have completed about one-third of that order at present. 

Douglsa said the new order is great news not only for Nova Bus but for the many suppliers in the region who will take part in delivering this contract. 

“We now look forward to continuing to work with Nova as a central player in Plattsburgh’s emergence as North America’s premier center for the production of 21st-century transportation equipment,” he said.

JOBS STEADY

Nova Bus employs slightly more than 200 employees in Plattsburgh. 

“This order will enable us to maintain our current workforce levels,” spokeswoman Isabelle Gregoire told the Press-Republican.

According to information on the Chicago Transit Authority website, the buses cost about $489,000 each. If the option is picked up, the total value of the contract would be about $221.3 million.

Congressman Bill Owens said the announcement is good news for Nova Bus employees and the many suppliers who depend on the company to bolster their business.

“Manufacturing jobs like those at Nova Bus are critical to strengthening the middle class, and I applaud the work that’s being done at all levels to secure Nova Bus’s place as a leading employer for the North Country,” he said by email.

Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Bernie Bassett said the Nova Bus team does a great job in promoting its product to transit authorities across the country. 

“It’s very good news for the town. It’s very good news for the region,” he said. “It’s also very special news for everyone who works at Nova Bus.”

Nova Bus is part of the Volvo Group, which has about 12,000 workers at six production facilities in the United States.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com