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New Flyer looking to ride into Quebec
Posted by Gold_12TH on Sat Apr 14 14:48:00 2012
Montreal demo (CIT de Sorel-Varennes operator, suburban coach (fleet roster)
Inside an Excelsior bus are (from left) Francis Rinfret of CIT Sorel-Varennes, Michel Daneault of Girardin, Stephane Tremblay of Groupe Transbus and Mark Brager of New Flyer.
From the outside, the bus looks like an inter-city coach, thanks to curvy lines and wall-to-wall glass. The entry door is wide and, inside, you'll find big windows, LED lights and a lot of headroom. It claims to be quieter and more fuel efficient than current city buses.
Meet the Xcelsior, a Winnipeg-made bus that may one day ply the streets of Montreal. It's made by New Flyer, a Manitoba company that hopes to break the stranglehold Nova Bus has for decades had on Quebec public transit.
"The Quebec market is not well-served because there hasn't been effective competition in the past," Mark Brager told The Gazette Thursday after giving a tour of an Xcelsior in a Varennes parking lot.
New Flyer, a public company with 2,000 employees, describes itself as North America's leading provider of transit buses, supplying vehicles to most of the continent's biggest transit agencies.
Now, the company has teamed up with Girardin, a Drummondville company that specializes in school buses and minibuses, to break into Quebec.
Together, New Flyer and Girardin are bidding on a contract to supply hundreds of new buses to 10 transit agencies in Quebec, including those of Montreal, Laval and Longueuil.
They're up against St. Eustache's Nova Bus, the Volvo-owned company that supplied every one of the 1,680 buses in the Société de transport de Montréal's current fleet.
Quebec transit agencies are seeking at least 333 buses. They must be Canadianmade, low-floor, regular-sized (40 feet long), diesel-hybrid and air-conditioned.
The public-tender order, expected to be given this summer, is being done collectively and the number of buses the STM gets will depend on ridership growth, among other things.
The buses are to be delivered between 2013 and 2016, with options to add more in following two years. In total, more than 1,000 buses may be purchased.
Brager said the cost of a diesel-hybrid Xcelsior is in the C$600,000 range. He touted the Xcelsior's fuel-efficiency, passenger comfort and ease of maintenance.
Largely unknown in Quebec, the company recently landed its first contract in the province in 40 years.
It has supplied 12 of the diesel version of the Xcelsior to the transit agency serving Sorel, Varennes and four neighbouring towns, with another five buses on the way. The first bus arrived in January.
"The response from the clientele has been very positive," said Francis Rinfret, president of the Conseil intermunicipal de transport Sorel-Varennes. "Passengers tell us they're comfortable and quiet enough."
Girardin was started by Lionel Girardin in the 1940s, initially as a used-car lot and garage. Still owned by members of the Girardin family, it now employs 2,000 people.
Michel Daneault, the company's vice-president, said New Flyer and Girardin are well-placed to take on Nova Bus. In the past, "New Flyer didn't have a place of business in Quebec," Daneault said. "Now Girardin is New Flyer's place of business and a solid and dependable representative for the company."
If New Flyer and Girardin get the Quebec order, the buses will be manufactured in Winnipeg.
Girardin will supply service advice, parts and training to the transit agencies, Daneault said.
It's too early to say how many jobs would be created in Quebec if New Flyer and Girardin land the contract, Daneault said. That will depend on the number of buses ordered.
In February, Nova Bus unveiled the design of the bus it hopes to sell to Quebec transit agencies. Nova Bus does not disclose how many employees it has in Quebec. It says it has about 1,000 workers at three plants - in St. Eustache, St. François du Lac (near Sorel) and Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Met News: Watch video tours of New Flyer's Xcelsior bus and the new design from Nova Bus montrealgazette.com/ metnews