Metro will get a boost in its program to restore transit service to customers with a new $4 million federal grant that the Agency will use to buy 12 buses. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has notified Metro that its grant application has been approved through the FTA Clean Fuels Bus Grant program to buy buses that meet current federal emissions requirements.
Metro immediately needs more buses to restore services that were reduced in March 2009 for financial reasons. Metro began implementing service restoration in June and has been working to speed up bus acquisition.
Metro has been searching for grants to help rebuild its bus fleet because we had to cancel purchases in recent years because of financial challenges.
This is very exciting news! As many of our riders have noticed, many buses in our fleet are older and some are experiencing overcrowding.
Metro’s Maintenance Department has allowed it to operate buses beyond the industry standard of 500,000 miles and Metro’s target of an average bus age of eight years. As of December 2009, 67 percent of the buses in Metro’s fleet had logged an average of 500,000 miles and 36 percent ranged from 10 to 18 years old. This year, 160 buses in the fleet of 360 are eligible to be replaced.
“Our goal is to get back to our base business plan where we replace about one-fifteenth of our fleet each year. Eventually, our target is to consistently buy 30 new buses a year. Right now, with us short on buses, we are expediting our purchase schedule, and obtaining grants such as this one is very helpful in those efforts,” COO Ray Friem said.
These buses will help find the right bus for the route, based on ridership. In addition, new buses have much better emissions controls than older models and technological amenities such as on-board security cameras, GPS tracking, and low-floor kneeling for easier boarding.