DES PLAINES, Ill. – New Jersey Transit has agreed to proceed with the second year of its six-year contract with Motor Coach Industries for the manufacture and delivery of 185 commuter coaches valued at about $92 million.
After the successful delivery of three pilot coaches and completion of New Jersey Transit in-service testing and evaluation, MCI began production for the first-year order in mid-2016.
However, in July, MCI was informed that the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund was about to run out of money. The fund foots the bill for New Jersey Transit and New Jersey Department of Transportation capital projects.
By far, the largest line item in the fund is the New Jersey Transit contract for MCI coaches. However, hundreds of other projects to replace bridges, resurface roads and renovate transit stations across New Jersey also were impacted by the funding dispute.
New Jersey legislators and Gov. Chris Christie reached an impasse in early July over a plan to raise fuel and sales taxes to provide the fund with additional revenue.
That prompted Christie to issue an executive order declaring a state of emergency and directing the commissioner of the state Department of Transportation and the executive director of New Jersey Transit “to plan an immediate and orderly shutdown of all ongoing work that is funded by the TTFA.”
That was quickly followed by an order from Dennis J. Martin, executive director of New Jersey Transit, that all contract work financed by the fund begin an orderly shutdown, including work by MCI on the commuter coaches.
The funding issue was finally resolved in October with the approval of a fuel tax increase, allowing MCI to resume production of the commuter coaches.
While the contract was suspended for nearly three months, MCI was able to adjust production schedules and successfully deliver 96 commuter coaches to New Jersey Transit in 2016.
MCI fulfilled all year-one deliveries of 187 commuter coaches by the end of the first quarter 2017 and will commence delivery of year-two coaches starting in the third quarter 2017.
“MCI has a long history of working collaboratively with NJ Transit,” said Patrick Scully, MCI’s executive vice president of sales and marketing. “MCI is proud to support their strategic initiative of replacing older buses with modern clean-diesel 45-foot commuter coaches that provide greater capacity, reliability, reduced emissions and lower operating costs, while providing passengers superior riding comfort.”
The MCI commuter coaches are powered by clean diesel, with exhaust emissions reduced as required by the latest Clean Air Act amendments, and feature a 57-seat configuration that is Wi-Fi ready, seatbelt-equipped and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.