PLATTSBURGH — The New York State Assembly Transportation Committee chair was in town and said all New Yorkers should get behind the wheel of green transportation.
Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Plattsburgh) and the North Country Chamber of Commerce took the chair, Assemblyman William Magnarelli (D-Syracuse), on a tour of the local Bombardier and Nova Bus plants.
In his first visit to the region, Magnarelli said the North Country was as progressive as any New York region when prepping for clean energy technologies.
"We're trying to push the envelope on a lot of things and I think it's a lot of things that are important," Magnarelli said at a press conference following his tour.
"Maybe not to me and to my generation as much, but definitely important to my children and definitely my grandchildren," he said. "If you care about your grandchildren, you've got to take this thing seriously.
"I think that Bombardier and that Nova Bus — they are. Sure, they have a profit that they have to make at the bottom of it, but they also know what's coming and they're trying to stay ahead of the curve."
Bombardier Transportation in the City of Plattsburgh and Nova Bus on the Banker Road in the Town of Plattsburgh are both manufacturers of the North American Center of Excellence for Transportation Equipment, or NAmTrans.
Assemblyman Jones noted the two businesses as "anchors" of the cluster's 50-plus manufacturers.
"Plattsburgh is the proud home of two state-of-the-art companies that specialize in transit manufacturing for some of the country’s busiest regions," he said in a news release.
"I was happy to show Assemblyman Magnarelli the exciting and transformative projects these companies are working on in our communities."
One upcoming project includes Nova Bus's recently unveiled all-electric bus model.
"Here at Nova, I was told that they were 'electric bus geeks,'" Magnarelli said. "I'm OK with that."
Announced earlier this month, that latest bus model, dubbed the LFSe+, was to be a 100 percent electric, long-range, dual-charging options bus.
A joint effort with Arlington-based tech group BAE Systems, the model would be powered by an integrated modular system, have lessened maintenance costs, emit no greenhouse gas emissions and run between 211 and 292 miles.
"It's all very important, because not only do we have commuter-type buses, but we also have city transit buses, as well," Magnarelli said. "So there are different needs. I was shown that there could be different solutions."
And while those models aren't on the streets of New York today, Magnarelli said it was only a matter of time.
"When we say maybe it's not ready today, that doesn't mean that it might not be ready tomorrow," he said. "These things are happening as we speak.
"If we can help this trend move along — I'm all for it."
Magnarelli said the move towards an all-electric fleet could be in the state's future and New York City Transit Authority Chief Executive Officer Andy Byford has said it was his group's intention to have an all-electric fleet by 2040.
"As chairman of the transportation committee, we are involved in making sure that the people of New York state move as efficiently as possible and also as safely as possible," Magnarelli said.
"We also want to do it so that we save our environment and we are turning New York State green over the next 15 or 20 years. I believe that Bombardier and Nova Bus are very important to that endeavor — to all of those endeavors."
While the chair couldn't give any timeline specifics, he said he imagined those goals would be rolled into the Department of Transportation's Five Year Capital Plan.
"That's my number one challenge for the year and I think it's going to take up most of my time, to be honest," he said.
'TELL THAT STORY'
North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said facilitating visits, like that of Assemblyman Magnarelli, was one chamber contribution to manufacturers like Bombardier and Nova Bus.
"These are people who are in a position to make decisions about policy, investment levels, standards and so on," Douglas said. "You want them to do so with a full awareness of the companies and what they produce here in the North Country region."
Assemblyman Jones said he wants to get that story out to all of his colleagues in Albany and to the people of New York, too.
"We need to tell that story," he said. "Everything is about telling stories."
And Magnarelli said Jones, who often stands in support of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and other related corporations, would no longer be alone.
"Because now I've seen it," Magnarelli said. "I understand what he's talking about. I understand the people who are working in these plants.
"I understand the jobs that are being produced here."
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