A leading comercial vehicle data firm said it expects 2016 bus sales, including school buses, to be up by less than 1 percent, while production will fall by 2 percent.
Steve Tam, vice president of commercial sector at ACT Research in Columbus, Indiana, said any growth in the bus market would be "pretty nominal." This comes after four consecutive years of production increases, according to data submitted by school bus manufacturers to School Transportation News and reported in the annual Buyer's Guide that is published each January.
The most recent production year spanning Nov. 1, 2014, through Oct. 31, 2015, showed 41,200 total school bus units across all classes of vehicles. That is nearly a 36 percent increase from a low of 30,304 units reported for the 2010-2011 production year, when the industry felt the greatest effects of the recession, as school districts lagged behind the rest of the economy due to low state and local property tax revenue.
"Going forward, we believe the step up in replacement demand has already been figured in and will remain relatively constant," said Tam. "The same is also true for the small amount of growth that will be needed to handle increasing transportation needs."
ACT Research reports specifically on the North American Class 5-7, medium-duty and Class 8 heavy-duty markets. Conventional and transit-style school buses fall within Class 5-7, with some transit-styles in Class 8.
Meanwhile, Kenny Vieth, ACT's president and senior analyst, said in a statement that the medium-duty truck market is positioned for "moderate growth." All Class 5-7 orders in January were flat, year-over-year, at 17,400 total units, according to the firm's latest State of the Industry report.