ARBOC is North America’s low-floor, body-on-chassis (“cutaway’) bus leader serving transit, paratransit, and shuttle applications. With its underlying principle of “Equal Access for Everyone®” ARBOC is focused on providing unsurpassed passenger accessibility and comfort over traditional high-floor cutaway vehicles. Established in 2008 in Middlebury, Indiana, ARBOC has seen significant growth and success with more than 3,000 vehicles delivered to transit agencies and bus operators across North America.
In the cutaway space, ARBOC boasts a low-floor and fully accessible product range (including the Mobility, Freedom, and Independence models) ranging in size from 23 feet to 27 feet with a multitude of seat configurations to support various customer needs. ARBOC utilizes GM and Ford chassis’, and its various products include both 1:5 and 1:6 ramp slopes and 39” wide door openings. ARBOC prides itself on its ability to meet the needs of its customers and this approach sets the Company’s offering apart from the competition. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach, as vehicles are designed for the needs of the customer and the duty cycle of the vehicle.
In the medium duty space, ARBOC’s Equess (available in a range of powertrains) offers many of the capabilities of a heavy-duty bus but retains all the benefits of a mid-size vehicle. Available in lengths of 27 to 34 feet, the Equess can accommodate up to 33 passengers and six wheelchairs with a 1:8 ramp slope and a 39” entrance opening. The Equess is offered with optional dual-entry doors, with the second entrance located directly in front of the rear axle, allowing for quick loading and unloading of passengers, creating a more efficient service for transit agencies or shuttle service providers.
ARBOC’s track record of innovation, customization, broad vehicle offering, and focus on improving accessibility made the company an interesting target for NFI Group, who acquired ARBOC in 2017.
“ARBOC was an excellent entry point for NFI to enter the cutaway and medium-duty transit market, which provided us with a unique opportunity to continue our growth and diversification,” said Paul Soubry, President and Chief Executive Officer, NFI. “ARBOC has been a great addition to NFI, complementing our other offerings, which include a full suite of buses and coaches, infrastructure, telematics, parts and service. We’re excited about the next stages in ARBOC’s strategic journey, including enhancements to vehicle performance and the transition to electric, zero-emission mobility — or what we call the ZEvolution.”
NFI Group is a family of brands which also includes New Flyer® (heavy-duty transit buses), MCI® (motor coaches), Alexander Dennis Limited (single and double-deck buses), Plaxton (motor coaches) and NFI Parts™. ARBOC’s complimentary product lines, prowess as a low-floor cutaway builder with high quality, and proven and competitively priced products made the company a perfect pairing for NFI.
Recovering from the Pandemic
Similar to other players in the industry, ARBOC was significantly impacted by the pandemic and the associated supply chain disruptions. Facility idling, delays in orders, and unreliable supply all plagued the company over the past two and a half years. NFI has been pleased to see accelerating demand for its products on the back of historic investments in public transportation being made in both Canada and the United States. ARBOC has seen its backlog grow and was proud to be selected by the Toronto Transit Commission for 110 of its low-floor Independence vehicles in July 2021. While there were challenges throughout the pandemic, ARBOC took time to recalibrate its strategic outlook by focusing on the core pillars of product quality, dealer relationships and leveraging the capabilities of NFI Group.
A Focus on Quality and Performance
ARBOC prides itself on providing a low total cost of ownership while maintaining the safety and dependability of its vehicles. Product quality and reliability are critical to the future of ARBOC and remains its number one priority. The focus on best-in-class processes (i.e. customer reliability audits, operational excellence, circular feedback loops, etc.), workforce development, customer and dealer support, and continuous improvement will play critical roles in ARBOC’s focus on delivering the best low-floor product to the market. ARBOC’s commitment to accessibility, innovation and performance is at the center of all current and future operations and engineering initiatives. All of ARBOC’s cutaway vehicles have been Altoona tested with the Mobility model offering a 7-year, 200,000-mile service life.
Dealer Relationships are Critical to Success
ARBOC is proud to work with its network of Canadian and U.S. dealers who support the sales and service of its vehicles to both public and private customers. ARBOC works with 12 dealers providing local expertise and on the ground coverage to ensure customers the highest level of service and support.
“Dealer relationships have been paramount to our success since we founded ARBOC in 2008,” said Kim Yoder, Vice President Sales and Marketing, ARBOC. “Through the dealer network, we’ve been able to expand our geographic offerings, launch new products, and incorporate dealer feedback into our new product development processes. Going forward, we want to continue to strengthen those relationships and find win-win-win situations for ourselves, our dealers, and our customers.”
Leveraging NFI Group
With over 50,000 buses and coaches in service in North America, NFI is the leading provider of mobility solutions, offering customized products and services through a four-pillar approach that includes buses and coaches, technology, infrastructure, and workforce development. NFI also operates the Vehicle Innovation Center (“VIC”), the first and only innovation lab of its kind dedicated to advancing bus and coach technology and providing workforce development. Since opening in late 2017, the VIC has hosted over 300 interactive events, including vehicle launches for each NFI subsidiary, and welcomed over 5,000 industry professionals for EV and infrastructure training.
As part of North America’s largest bus and coach solutions provider, there are numerous ways ARBOC can leverage the broader capabilities of NFI to improve its offering. This will be especially important on the path to fleet electrification where infrastructure, connected vehicles, telematics, training, aftermarket support and field service become increasingly important. The ARBOC teams have worked closely with other NFI team members on the launch of its first battery-electric medium-duty bus, the Equess CHARGE, and continues to work with broader engineering teams and supply partners on further enhancements to its traditional propulsion and battery-electric vehicles.
In addition to product design and manufacturing support, NFI is also working with ARBOC on strategic sourcing initiatives, including use of internal supply from the NFI’s U.S.-based parts fabrication facilities. NFI Parts, North America’s largest transit and coach parts provider, and ARBOC have also been working closely together and recently launched an enhanced parts distribution program for cutaway products to help fulfill replacement parts for ARBOC customers.
Proud of its History Excited about its Future
The past 14 years has seen tremendous growth and expansion for ARBOC, from its humble beginnings as a partnership with Coachman Motors to becoming the leading provider of low-floor cutaway vehicles and its acquisition by NFI. NFI is proud of the success and the contribution of its team members, who have been critical to helping drive ARBOC forward. NFI is excited about the road ahead and the opportunities that will come from the transition to electrification, deeper dealer relationships and continued expansion of its medium-duty products.