Prevost will end manufacturing commuter coaches at its upstate New York plant by the end of the year.
The decision comes just three years after the company celebrated winning two major contracts with the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The Canadian manufacturer began assembling coaches at the Plattsburgh, New York, facility in late 2014, to move into the Buy America Act (BAA) market, which requires that coaches bought with federal dollars have at least half of the vehicles built in the United States.
“Our traditional market is long-haul coaches. In New York, this was an opportunity for us in 2014 to develop something new. The commuter market is in between what we do and what Nova Bus normally does, so, this was an occasion to diversify our portfolio by doing commuter buses,” said Jérôme Cantin, Lead Legal Counsel for Volvo Group Canada’s Prevost Division.
The 50 employees at the plant impacted by the decision will likely be offered positions with Nova Bus, a Volvo Group sister company, which will be taking over Prevost’s half of the facility.
The two currently share the facility. Earlier this year, Nova Bus indicated it needed more space in the facility to keep up with its growing bus orders — especially for electric vehicles — in the U.S. transit market.
Prevost will continue to sell Canadian-manufactured commuter coaches in the U.S. that are not subject to BAA requirements, which have increased since 2014. The company has a factory near its headquarters in Quebec.
“This had a major impact when we reviewed our decision to be in that BAA market,” Cantin said.
Just months before the pandemic in late 2019, Prevost won two MTA contracts for up to 330 buses, with a firm order of 307 buses to be delivered between 2020 and 2022, and options for 23 additional buses. The company announced plans increased staffing and double production of buses at the plant.
The contracts with North America’s largest transportation network was seen as a major ROI for its investment in the U.S. market.
“We initially opened our assembly line in Plattsburgh in 2014 after we received our first commuter bus contract from MTA. We are very proud as the buses for MTA will be built just a few hours drive from New York City. Our presence in this state is very important for Prevost and our talented employees in Plattsburgh are eager to demonstrate their skills once again to MTA,” said François Tremblay, Vice President and General Manager at Prevost, at the time.
Complete 700-bus order
The company plans to finish the last part of a 700-bus order by the end of the year for MTA. Aside from that contract that began in 2014, the current volume is very low.
“With the pandemic, we realized that some bids that we were expecting, either had been postponed or reduced in volume,” Cantin said.
Additionally, new bids are requesting electric products. Prevost recently launched an electrification program but doesn’t yet offer electric coaches.
The company will continue to produce commuter units for transit authorities in Canada as well as state-funded entities that are not in the BAA market.