A lack of capital funds for the CTA to buy new hybrid buses it had ordered last November has resulted in layoffs of about 320 workers at bus manufacturer New Flyer Industries, according to a report at ChicagoBus.org.
The CTA had committed last year to buying 140 hybrid buses at a cost of $123 million, but the authorizing ordinance stated that funding must still be identified. New Flyer is currently completing an order for 58 hybrid buses purchased using federal stimulus dollars.
New Flyer announced the layoffs of 270 union workers and 50 managers at plants in Canada and Minnesota. The company "announced that production of 140 diesel-electric hybrid articulated
buses (representing 280 equivalent units) under a major U.S. customer
order that was planned to commence the last week of July, 2009, had
been deferred indefinitely as a result of delays in the customer
receiving state funding."
A Winnipeg Sun story named the CTA as the "major U.S. customer." It also reported a union rep's frustration: "It's unfortunate. A lot of these people just got hired on here. We're
a little disappointed in Chicago," said Dave Hiebert, unit chair of
Canadian Auto Workers Local 3003, which represents New Flyer production
workers in Winnipeg."
I'm generally disappointed, and not specifically with the CTA. To balance its own budget due to falling tax revenues, it had to shift $129 million from capital funds to operating dollars. That might have paid for half of the bus order.
It's unconscionable that we as a society can't provide the funding to keep public transit in good working order, and replace aging equipment as needed.