Great news for bus riders! We’re adding 55 new buses to the fleet next year.
As riders can attest, many of our buses are overdue for replacement. (About 150 buses in our fleet are more than 18 years old.) They’re noisy and bumpy, and some don’t even have air conditioning. Not only are these older buses uncomfortable for riders and operators, they are becoming too unreliable and expensive for us to maintain.
That’s why, using grant funding and debt service, we’re replacing 55 of our oldest buses in 2012. We’re also planning for future bus purchases, starting with a “State of Good Repair” grant from the Federal Transit Administration that will fund an additional 14 buses in 2013.
The new buses are currently being designed at the Gillig factory in Hayward, California.
In addition to air conditioning, automatic stop announcements and low floors for easy boarding, they’ll feature:
- vinyl seats that are easier to clean
- LED lights on the mirrors that alert pedestrians and motorists of intent to turn
- an innovative electronic cooling system based on auto-racing technology
- a longer, more gradual boarding ramp capable of carrying heavier loads
- a streamlined front end
Four of the buses will be next-generation hybrid-electric vehicles, which we will test for performance, maintenance needs and fuel efficiency.
The electronic cooling system, dubbed “mini-hybrid” technology, is already in use on more than 100 of our buses and has been shown to improve fuel economy by more than 5 percent. It uses an electrified subsystem to operate at an optimal temperature range, as opposed to a standard hydraulic or mechanical fan system.
Our goal is to reduce the average age of our bus fleet from 13 1/2 years to 8 by 2020, and to replace all remaining high-floor buses (those with steps at the door) with low-floor vehicles by 2013.
A prototype bus is expected to arrive in Portland next spring, and the rest will begin shipping from the factory in the fall. Stay tuned for more details!