The Speaker of the state Assembly was in northern New York today to tour the Bombardier rail car manufacturing plant in Plattsburgh. Now that the legislative session is over, it was his first stop on a summer tour of the state.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx, toured the plant that makes rail cars for the Metropolitan Transit Authority – or MTA - in New York City before stepping into a conference room to talk to local representatives and reporters.
Bombardier Transportation Americas COO David Van der Wee noted that the Quebec-based company has a very active presence in New York state. “We have a number of different sites. We do overhauls. We build new cars. We support cars entering into production into New York. And of course what a lot of people know is we have our headquarters for our U.S. operations right there in New York. So we have over a thousand employees. We have a significant supply base. We have a lot of activity and it’s really an important facility for us for the U.S. not only today but also far into the future. As we grow, and we are growing in the U.S. and there’s a lot of opportunity for us at Bombardier, Plattsburgh will remain our lead site.”
This is Speaker Heastie’s third visit to the North Country and his second tour of the Bombardier assembly plant. Heastie said he wanted to make Plattsburgh the first stop on his summer tour to emphasize the connections between upstate and downstate. "I wanted to come up here early particularly with what happened in this year’s budget and having to vote for congestion pricing in the city which we hope will raise around a billion dollars a year so that we can then float bonds to build more trains and get a new signal system, which I think is the most pressing thing. I think we have 21st century rail cars. I just think we don’t have a 21st century signal system in the city. But this is a big part, Bombardier is a big part of what we’re trying to do in the city. They’re just making it very successful transportation system.”
Fellow Democratic Assemblyman D. Billy Jones represents the local district. He says it’s good to showcase that the transportation economy in the North Country has a direct link to the MTA and New York City region. “When the MTA needs upgrades, when they need capital to work on these upgrades, we build those products right here in Plattsburgh. Our economy directly benefits from that. We create jobs. We create spin-off companies that feed to those major businesses such as Bombardier and it’s great for our economy. It’s simple. People ask me well why are you so concerned about the MTA and the transportation in New York City? Because it benefits us here economically.”
Speaker Heastie also stopped at Clare and Carl’s to try the local summer staple “Michigan” — a hot dog with a spicy meat sauce.