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MTA buying subway cars made upstate; protects jobs

Michael Gormley, Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York City's mass transit system will get more than 300 new subway cars in a contract that is expected to be a big economic boost for upstate's Plattsburgh area, where the deal will preserve 500 jobs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the $600 million contract with Montreal-based Bombardier on Wednesday. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority contract will provide stable, higher-paying manufacturing jobs for several years.

Cuomo said says the deal will keep 300 manufacturing jobs workers busy and support 200 more jobs from suppliers.

"We are one state and this shows how different regions of our state can support each other," Cuomo said. "We will continue to rebuild New York's vital infrastructure, creating jobs for hard-working New Yorkers and generating economic growth in all corners of the state."

The contract will provide work until late 2016, when the cars are due for delivery in New York City. Bombardier Chairman Laurent Beaudoin also announced plans for a new Plattsburgh assembly plant.

"This is great news for a great workforce and a tremendous economic boost for Plattsburgh and the North Country Region," said Sen. Elizabeth O'C Little, a Republican representing the North County.

The contract is part of two major statewide initiatives.

Earlier this week, Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed to fully fund the last three years of the MTA's five-year capital plan. The MTA plan will provide $13.1 billion for four massive projects now under way. The projects include new subway and rail cars, new energy-efficient buses, station rehabilitation, enhanced communications and signals, new rail yards, elevators and escalators, as well as major projects such as the Second Avenue subway.

The new "R179" cars will replace cars on the C Line that have been used since 1964. The new cars will have brighter lighting, better heat and air conditioning systems and digital voice announcements.

The average age of a subway car is 22 years; it will drop to under 20 when the new cars are operating.

The Bombardier contract is also the type of infrastructure and manufacturing objective planned for Cuomo's New York Works program. The plan pools capital borrowing and funds from state agencies and authorities, like the MTA, to focus on major regional jobs-producing plans.

The MTA deal will also be funded in part by $306 million in federal money.

Earlier this month, the state Labor Department released data that shows New York in a continued, but slow economic recovery. From January 2011 to January 2012, the number of private-sector jobs grew by 1.7 percent in New York state and by 2.3 percent in New York City. At the same time, unemployment rose from 8.2 percent to 8.3 percent in New York state and from 8.9 percent to 9.3 percent in New York City.