Sound Transit board approves purchase of clean diesel and hybrid buses

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Replacement buses will add rider capacity, reduce engine emissions, and lower bus-related operating and maintenance costs

The Sound Transit Board of Directors today authorized the purchase of 34 new hybrid and clean diesel buses for ST Express routes serving Pierce and Snohomish county riders.

Board members authorized $16.9 million for the purchase of 24 forty-foot hybrid buses and $8.1 million for 10 sixty-foot clean diesel buses. The procurement of the buses is a part of the fleet replacement program funded by the Sound Transit 2 and Sound Move ballot measures passed by voters in 2008 and 1996.

"The old buses served Sound Transit customers well. Now it's time to replace them with more comfortable models that do a better job of preserving the environment and lowering fuel, operating and maintenance costs," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon.

"Federal Transit Administration guidelines recommend replacing buses after 500,000 miles of service. The average mileage for the coaches we are retiring is 730,000 miles," Reardon said. "These buses will be even more efficient and cost-effective than those we're retiring."

The new buses will replace coaches first purchased when the agency began providing regional bus service in 1999. They will reduce engine emissions and lower operating and maintenance costs of the agency's bus fleet. The new coaches offer a sleek, modern design that includes rider amenities such as high-back reclining seats, individual overhead lighting, overhead luggage compartments, and air conditioning.

The 60-foot, high-capacity clean diesel buses will seat 56 passengers each and ease overcrowding on routes for Everett, Lynnwood and Woodinville commuters. Sound Transit estimates that the clean diesel buses, which are replacing 10 forty-foot vehicles in its fleet, will save an estimated 5% in annual fuel consumption. New Flyer Industries, Inc. in Crookstan, Minnesota and Winnipeg, Manitoba will manufacture the coaches for service this fall. Community Transit will operate the buses.

The 40-foot hybrid buses, which will replace the oldest coaches in Sound Transit's fleet, will seat 37 passengers each and serve Tacoma, Lakewood, Puyallup and other routes operating in Pierce County. Sound Transit received $5.3 million in competitive grant monies from the Federal Transit Administration to offset the costs of replacing 24 standard diesel buses with the hybrid models. Gillig Corporation in Hayward, CA, will manufacture the buses for service in fall of 2012. Pierce Transit will operate the buses.

Since Sound Transit began providing ST Express bus service in 1999, more than 100 million riders in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties have boarded the agency's buses.