Building Better Buses
Published by The Power of Minnesota
"It’s making the world a better place."
Jacob Zipp, a launch manager with New Flyer of America, walks across the factory floor of the bus manufacturer’s Saint Cloud facility. “This is truly zero-emission. It’s quiet, it’s clean, and it’s making the world a better place.” Jacob is referring to the Xcelsior Charge™ – New Flyer’s newest bus model – which runs on electricity instead of fossil fuels.
Since 2017, New Flyer has been building fully electric buses at their Saint Cloud and Crookston manufacturing facilities. These buses will be driven off the factory floor by retired bus drivers who will navigate them across the country to cities that are looking for cleaner, more efficient ways to run their public transit systems.
"This is truly zero emission. It’s quiet, it’s clean, and it’s making the world a better place."
Jacob Zipp, New Flyer of America
A New Workforce
Building electric buses has required New Flyer to train their employees with new skills that are expected to grow in demand. “Adding the electric bus production to our Saint Could and Crookston facilities in Minnesota has transitioned us in terms of workforce development. It’s forced us to give people more training and give people more technical skills that will be transferable throughout their entire life,” said Margaret Lewis, Senior Vice President of Facilities and Manufacturing.
Investments in workforce development and manufacturing infrastructure to build electric buses are part of New Flyer’s long-term growth strategy. “With us ramping up e-buses, we’re anticipating that the demand is going to be very high in the coming years. It means more jobs here in Minnesota and in Saint Cloud. It makes everything better for those of us who live here”
The benefits of New Flyer’s electric buses extend beyond Crookston and Saint Cloud. Metro Transit recently announced plans to convert their entire fleet of diesel buses into electric vehicles, which will be supplied by New Flyer. The transit agency plans on purchasing 125 electric buses by 2022. The switch will mean cleaner air for communities that see a large amount of bus traffic.
“I got my first chance to do electric buses when we were assigned to do the Minneapolis/Metro Transit build,” said Jacob. “Being able to be there with the whole community around us and actually hear a genuine excitement about what we built for them and how it’s going to improve their lives… it was really amazing.”