I still am in the process of writing the post about the Green Festival in May. Though it was 3 months ago, there were still a lot of interesting things to see there.
On to the point of my post title...
I was riding the bus this morning, and it was the third time I'd managed to get on one of the new hybrid buses that the Chicago Transit Authority recently bought through the stimulus package.
Though you wouldn't peg Chicago as a "green" city right off the bat, the CTA has had hybrid buses running since 2006 starting with the 800-series New Flyer bus. In 2007, the CTA introduced the 900-series New Flyer models with a different hybrid drive system made by ISE-Siemens (as opposed to the GM/Allison drive system used in the 800-series). 2008 brought the 4000-series New Flyer, with LED lighting and the superior GM/Allison hybrid drive system used in the 800-series.
These new buses bought with the stimulus package are updated versions of the 4000-series, with a new seat design. And let me tell you, these seats are AMAZING! They're 10-times more comfortable than the old InSight seats used in the old 4000-series buses.
Now, the reason for all this set-up is to inform you that the CTA has been buying up these buses and providing New Flyer with some solid business. However, recently, the CTA has faced delays in state funding for the purchase of an additional 140 hybrid buses set to be delivered by the end of this year.
This shouldn't come as a surprise, given all the hoopla and "doomsday" scenarios between the CTA and the state, when the CTA threatened to shut down key bus routes in an effort to secure funding.
However, this has had a huge impact on New Flyer's business. Since transit buses are built on an "engineer-to-order" basis, there are production schedules set up for the production and delivery of bus orders. With the deferred CTA order, there is now a sizeable gap in New Flyer's production schedule, meaning they will have to find ways to re-allocate their labor and resources.
And one way they are doing that is by laying off 270 of their unionized workforce and 50 people in their salaried workforce. Given that New Flyer has 2500 employees, this comes to about 13% of their workforce, all because the CTA can't get state funding in time to pay for the buses.
To the workers of New Flyer who will be layed off, please excuse the state of Illinois...we're a little incompetent when it comes to things that matter...