Nova Bus and Prevost adjust to COVID reality, work NYC contracts

KAYLA BREEN/P-R File PHOTONova Bus General Manager Greg Cody speaks in February about a new U.S. deal with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority during a press conference announcing the news at the Nova Bus facility located in the Town of Plattsburgh.

PLATTSBURGH — After dealing with the challenges of adjusting to the new COVID-19 landscape, bus manufacturer Nova Bus/Prevost has been able to get back on track for its 2020 production.

“The biggest issue of course has been COVID-19 and just getting through all the stuff from March until now,” Nova Bus General Manager Greg Cody said.

“The short-term focus has been working our way through that, and getting all of the proper protocols in place so that we protect our employees.”

Nova Bus and Prevost are both part of Volvo Buses and both work out of a facility on Banker Road in the Town of Plattsburgh.

Prevost focuses on commuter coach style buses while Nova Bus focuses on city transit-style buses, according to Cody, with the shared facility making primarily Nova Buses over Prevost buses at an approximate three-to-one split.

Coming into 2020, the bus manufacturers were planning to increase capacity at the 120,000 square-foot plant, Cody said.

While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused initial setbacks, Nova Bus/Prevost has been able to get back on track over the last few months.

Employees of the transportation manufacturer were considered essential from the beginning, with the transportation industry deemed so, but a full return of employees did not occur until June, after safety protocols had been put in place.

The company has added about 50 jobs in the last three or four months, Cody said, employing more than 350 people overall.

The company managed to double production in the Prevost line by October, according to Cody, with the Nova Bus production capacity expected to increase about 50 percent by the end of the year.

Both increases are related to separate New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority contracts recently signed by Prevost and Nova Bus respectively.

The Nova Bus deal included 165, 40-foot hybrid buses, the largest hybrid contract that the Plattsburgh plant had ever had, Cody said, as well as diesel buses.

BORDER CLOSURE

This increase in production was somewhat hampered by the U.S.-Canada border closure to non-essential travel that has been in place since March.

Nova Bus’ headquarters is in St. Eustache, Quebec while Prevost is headquartered in St. Claire, Quebec.

Some workers have adjusted to working remotely in Canada, Cody said, but, due to the transportation being deemed essential, the bus makers have been able to get some employees across the border.

And it’s the complete team of workers that have been able to keep the manufacturing line going through a pandemic with so many unprecedented challenges.

“As an organization, we would not be successful were it not for all of the employees that work here at Nova Bus and Prevost,” Cody said.

“It’s them who make us successful, and they’ve been having to work through all the difficulties.”

 

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