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With Major Yates County Employer Coach & Equipment Poised To Compete In Upcoming MTA Bus Contract For New NYC Buses, Schumer Launches Major Push to Bring New Jobs To Yates County 

 Schumer: Manufacturing Industry Is Critical to Upstate NY

During a visit to Penn Yan, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today toured one of Yates County’s largest employer, Coach & Equipment. Schumer spoke to workers, management and local leaders about the future of the plant and discussed why buying New York products is so important. Schumer also launched a push to help Coach pursue a major contract that would allow it to produce the roughly 400 new paratransit buses that the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) anticipates to purchase soon and put on the road next year. Schumer said this could mean good things for job creation and local workers in Yates County.

“Coach & Equipment not only manufactures the critical paratransit buses that keep our passengers across New York State and the country safe, but it is also provides good-paying, middle-class jobs to 150 local residents. I have been proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Coach over the last several years as we cut through federal red tape and helped ensure this economic engine could continue humming and expanding right here in the Finger Lakes. I am beyond thrilled to be here today as we celebrate this company’s success,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why, today, I’m also launching my push to build on this achievement and help Coach pursue a major contract that would allow it to produce hundreds of new buses for the MTA. This project has the potential to add many more jobs right in Yates County and could mean increased economic development in Yates County."

Schumer said Coach & Equipment is one of the top five private employers in Yates County, and it provides good-paying jobs to roughly 150 local residents. Schumer explained that Coach is the second oldest manufacturing company in the county and has a long tradition of being a community-oriented employer. Coach manufacturers paratransit (handicap accessible) buses in New York State and produces these buses for clients across the country. The company has provided buses for smaller transportation operations like Rochester Transit Services’s (RTS) Lift Line paratransit bus service as well as massive transportation systems like New York City’s MTA service.

Schumer has long fought to keep good-paying jobs, like those at the Coach & Equipment facility, in Yates County. In 2013, when the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) decided to revise its contracting requirements and the ways in which the federally-funded transit authorities could purchase buses, Schumer intervened to ensure Coach would not be negatively impacted. Because the FTA was initially unclear on what these new requirements meant for existing contracts with transit authorities in Maryland and other states, the production agreements Coach already had in the pipeline were thrown into question. This red tape and lack of clarity put Coach’s business in jeopardy and nearly forced the company to lay off 50 workers, roughly half of its workforce at the time. Following this news, Schumer stepped in and urged the FTA to grandfather Coach out of some new regulations for the pre-existing contracts, including a contract with the Maryland transit system; this allowed Coach to save 50 jobs and apply the new regulations to future orders. Additionally, keeping the State of Maryland contract has continued to pay dividends for Coach as the company's anticipated sales to Maryland next year are a prime driver in Coach's plans to grow employment in 2017. 

Because Coach was allowed to keep its production flowing, the company was able to increase its business and ultimately expand and move into a second facility in Yates County. Schumer visited Coach's manufacturing facility today to meet with local workers and company leaders. During his visit, Schumer also supported Coach’s planned bid to provide the MTA in New York City with the nearly 400 paratransit buses. Coach expects MTA to soon issue its bid solicitation for up to 400 new paratransit buses that the MTA has indicated it will need to put on the road next year. Schumer said Coach has been the MTA’s primary paratransit bus supplier in the past, and winning this contract would allow Coach to keep its production increasing and potentially allow it to create jobs over the next few years.

Schumer explained that the company currently employs 150 people now and anticipates its current work with other state transportation agencies, including the State of Maryland, will allow it to increase its workforce by 10 percent next year. This is on top of the 10-15 workers it is currently looking to hire to keep up with every day demand. Securing this MTA contract could potentially mean further expansion and hiring in Yates County, as the production of 400 new buses would be a significant undertaking. Currently Coach produces about 20 buses per week, but is aiming to increase production by 25% next year and produce 25 buses per week by pursuing these new contracts.  Schumer said this would be a shot in the arm for the entire county and bring greater economic development opportunities to the surrounding region.

In December 2015, Coach also benefitted from Schumer’s push to reinstate the 5340 High Density States Program in the final transportation bill. When the Senate tried to cut this program by $100 million, Schumer argued that 5340 funding has helped many smaller area transit agencies across the state operate and balance their already tight budgets. When these transit agencies are able to balance their books, operate at a high level and purchase the buses they need to transport riders across the state, companies like Coach benefit through increased business. Not only did Schumer succeed in restoring the nearly $1.3 billion in 5340 funding for the next five years, he also secured an $18.5 million increase in 5340 funds over the next five years.

In addition, in April 2015 Schumer went to bat for Coach by urging the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to reconsider and clarify a proposal that could have hurt Rochester-area manufacturers of buses and trains and put hundreds of jobs at risk.  The proposed rule and pilot program would have allowed businesses that receive federal funding from the USDOT to require local hiring on any contract. But Schumer said the proposal was so broad it would have included the procurement of “rolling stock,” or vehicles such as buses, vans, cars, railcars and other modes of transport that are produced to carry passengers in major transit systems. Schumer explained that local companies, such as Coach & Equipment Manufacturing Corp. in Penn Yan and Alstom Transportation Inc. in Hornell, could have been put at a disadvantage because it would have allowed their customers in major cities outside of the region to require that they be located in the city in which they are bidding on contracts. Schumer successfully pushed the USDOT to clarify this rule so it was clear that it did not apply to rolling stock.

Schumer was joined by Coach and Equipment owner Jim McMullen, Coach Bus Sales President Scott Reston, employees, and local officials.

Coach Bus Sales President Scott Reston said, “We appreciate Senator Schumer’s long and continued support for Coach and Equipment.  He helped us save 50 local jobs, move forward on our expansion to an additional facility in Penn Yan in 2014, and last year reinstated a critical provision in the federal transportation bill so that our nation’s public transit agencies had the funding they need to make system upgrades and purchase buses like those we manufacture.  Because of this, Coach and Equipment is now pursuing new work and we are poised to grow our business and our manufacturing jobs right here in Penn Yan.”