By Elaine Tran and Matt Wilson, @wilsonstcomms
It’s pretty easy to articulate just how long a 60-foot articulated bus is. On Wednesday, March 14, SamTrans received a visit from a bus headed north toward San Francisco for delivery.
Staff from all departments was invited to step into the articulated bus, which are the ones you see on the street with those pivoting joints in the middle. New Flyer buses similar to this one are scheduled to join the SamTrans fleet and hit the streets for service in late summer 2019.
Last month, the SamTrans Board of Directors approved the purchase of 55 of these heavy-duty clean-diesel buses.
Here at Central headquarters in San Carlos, we stepped aboard the MUNI bus and immediately noticed an alluring new-bus smell. We were struck by just how dang long it was and how roomy sections of it were. It felt like a long, relaxing lounge on wheels.
That was the reaction from many cubicle dwellers at Central, but the core audience was the guys and gals who will actually drive and do maintenance on these things. The bus made stops at our maintenance facility bus yards before heading up to San Francisco for final delivery to MUNI today.
There was some definite excitement from operators to take it for a spin. One driver on Thursday said “it drives like a dream,” but added that while this New Flyer model was a hybrid, he still wanted to check out the diesel model as the braking and acceleration mechanisms will be slightly different. Another employee was overheard referring to it as “posh” and liked how a button on the outside could conveniently release open the doors.
SamTrans buses are being designed now, and are expected to have three doors, fabric seats, approximately 53 seats, Clipper card readers in the back and the front, cameras, Wi-Fi capability and USB charging stations. Other details have been heavily scrutinized and customized by our staff.
This is intended to be the last diesel bus purchase that SamTrans will make because the Transit District would eventually like to convert its current fleet to electric buses in the future. These new buses are more environmentally friendly than the older models in the fleet, producing 87 percent less nitrogen oxides and at least a 10 percent improvement in fuel efficiency.
Battery-powered buses were considered, but it was determined that current technology did not fully meet the duty-cycle of performing the ECR route that these buses are intended for.
The purchase of $48.9 million buses, which is primarily funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), allows for the replacement of (55) 2002 model articulated buses that have exceeded their useful life under FTA regulations.
Public affairs specialist Dan Lieberman contributed to this post