Several weeks ago, we wrote in this space about the possibility of Blue Bird grabbing the North Carolina yellow school bus contract and shutting out local company Thomas Built Buses. Strike that, as IC Bus ended up the low bidder and winning the lucrative contract for nearly 900 new Type C buses.
Local North Carolina residents are sure to be unhappy, as there were press reports last month detailing the public outrcry before the contract was even finalized. Several media outlets quoted residents who were perplexed that Thomas of High Point would not be keeping the business in state especially in light of the economy and skyrocketing unemployment.
At that time, Blue Bird looked like it would win as it was the low bidder, a state requirement for awarding such bids. But a spokesman at the North Carolina Office of Public Instruction said Blue Bird retracted its proposal apparently after discovering some internal errors in calculations that procluded the company from actually meeting the price it quoted the state. That left IC Bus as the new low bidder, and with that the deal for the close to 900 CE Series school buses was inked.
However, Blue Bird did win a multi-award contract for activity buses along with IC Bus, though the exact number of buses is unknown because those purchases are up to local districts. But, last month, John O’Leary, president at Thomas, said last month that losing the North Carolina award would not translate into job losses at home, despite the fact the company has laid off about 400 workers in the past year due to the economy.
The IC win, meanwhile, also means the advanced EGR MaxxForce diesel engine makes it onto the state specification list for meeting upcoming 2010 EPA emissions requirements. Both Blue Bird and Thomas are meeting the standard with urea-based SCR Cummins engines.
In a statement, John McKinney, president of IC Bus, gave the credit to a local dealer for the contract win.
“The team from White’s International has a keen understanding of the needs of this customer. They helped demonstrate how IC Bus could be a partner to them during and after the sale.” McKinney commented.