By Will Reisman, @WillReisman

With bus reliability levels that far exceed agency goals, SamTrans prides itself on maintaining its fleet of buses. But even the best mechanics in the world can’t solve every issue if the agency is stocked with vehicles that are well past their useful life.

That’s why it’s important for SamTrans to restock its fleet with new vehicles, providing its customers with state-of-the-art buses that are comfortable, clean and spacious. On Wednesday, the agency’s Board of Directors moved toward accomplishing those goals by agreeing to purchase 50 new diesel buses.

Approved unanimously by the board, the $25.4 million purchase will introduce brand new low-floor 40-foot buses to the SamTrans rolling stock. The vehicles, which are set to be introduced into service in 2017, will replace some  2003 buses that are aging out of the fleet.  . The replacement of the buses keeps to standards set by the Federal Transit Administration and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Part of a five-year contract that was originally approved  by the Board of Directors in January 2014, the new buses will be manufactured by Gillig, which has a local plant across the Bay in Hayward. Funding for the bus purchase has already been allocated in the SamTrans Capital Budget, with state and federal sources helping to pay for the acquisition.

Along with assuring that its fleet of today remains reliable and dependable, the SamTrans Board of Directors made a commitment to the future at the agency’s meeting on Wednesday. The board approved a request to seek $949,523 in funding from the California Low Carbon Transportation Operations Program for the potential procurement of electric buses. While electric buses are still several years away from being used on a full-time basis at public transportation agencies, the funding request will allow SamTrans to investigate the potential uses of the emerging technology.


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