Alderman Emma Mitts welcomed Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool to Freedman Seating Company, 4545 West Augusta Boulevard, to announce the injection of up to $8.25 million and the addition of 100 new jobs at the West Side factory as a result of CTA’s purchase of 300 to 450 buses requiring light-weight, durable seating manufactured by Freedman Seating, the 120-year old company based in West Humboldt Park. Approximately one-third of the new jobs will require highly skilled trade positions, including machinists, computer numerical control operators, welders, and engineers.
Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation joined the Mayor and CTA President for the announcement.
“A world-class transit system is a key component of our city’s economic plan,” said Mayor Emanuel. “By modernizing our bus and rail fleets, we are providing our passengers with a more comfortable, safe, and reliable transit system while making critical improvements that boost the local economy with new jobs.”
In January 2013, the Chicago Transit Board approved the awarding of a $148 million contract to Nova Bus for the purchase of at least 300 new 40-foot buses that will replace older model buses that are nearing the end of their useful life. As part of that contract, CTA’s specifications call for lightweight seating options to reduce vehicle weight and fuel costs, and that are also durable enough to withstand heavy-duty use in all seasons.
CTA chose Freedman because of its proven seat design that is durable, lightweight, and capable of providing comfort to passengers while contributing to greater fuel efficiency for the new buses.
Freedman Seating currently employs more than 500 workers. The contract from CTA will require Freedman to produce 11,100 seats for the 300 new buses (37 seats per bus). If the CTA exercises its option to order an additional 150 buses, it would mean an order of another 5,500 seats from Freedman.
Freedman Seating is also committed to two of the Mayor’s signature economic development initiatives, including its longstanding relationship with City Colleges of Chicago as part of the College to Career program. Freedman is supporting Skills for Chicagoland’s Future by hiring the city’s unemployed. Freedman Seating also works with Austin Polytechnical Academy High School.