Oriskany, NY (WIBX) - The leading hybrid bus manufacturer whose Orion systems integration and final assembly plant is based right here in Oriskany, is shutting down a major part of its operation. Daimler Buses just announced plans to begin phasing out its manufacturing operation due to a decline in the city transit market.

Silke Walters, a spokesperson for the company, says the market for city transit buses that use alternative energy, has been on a steady decline for years, forcing the company to make what she calls, "a very difficult decision." Walters goes on to say, "Basically the city bus market has been laying down for several years and we don't see any recovery of the city bus segment over the next several years and that's also related to the--the city buses are not going to be replaced from public institutions, they don't invest due to their losing money and so that's the reason why we don't expect a strong recovery over the next several years."

She says the company looked at all other options, including expanding to complete the product range. "But that wasn't a feasible economy because it required too high of an investment. And, the city bus market is a very specific one so you can't adopt the buses from North America to any other continent, as well as, you can't just use European buses for example, here in North America. And the cost position overall was not competitive," she said.

Daimler Buses employs 480 people at its Oriskany plant, and Walters says jobs will be lost. However, how many, is yet to be determined. "We are hoping that we can keep as many jobs as possible, but please understand that really first we need to talk to our customers, they have been informed right now what's going on, but we have to talk first with our customers and it's quite too early to say how many jobs will be lost, or we can keep," she said.

She says, the company will maintain its Parts and Services Business in Oriskany, after fullfilling all customer orders. Orion Transit Buses are only sold in the U.S. and Canada.  Walters says the company did explore its options of going global, however due to all the legal, security and environmental regulations imposed by different governments, this option was not feasible. Daimler Buses North America is headquartered in Greensboro, N.C.