Chicago Transit Board Approves Contract to Purchase New Clean-Diesel Buses

February 10, 2021

New buses will replace oldest in fleet that are 20 years old and averaging more than half-million miles

The Chicago Transit Board today approved the purchase of up to 600 new, clean-diesel buses, part of the agency’s ongoing effort to modernize its fleet to benefit customers and reduce maintenance costs.

The contract with Nova Bus allows for the purchase of at least 100 buses and options to purchase an additional 500 clean-diesel buses, which will allow CTA to maintain safe and reliable service while gradually retiring the oldest buses in its fleet.

“Over the next two years, nearly 70 percent of our bus fleet will be beyond its useful life, resulting in reduced service reliability and increased operational and maintenance costs,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “Today’s purchase will help ensure CTA can continue to provide safe, reliable service as we prepare to transition to an all-electric bus fleet over the next 20 years.”

The buses purchased today will replace the 100 remaining Nova 6400-series, which were purchased between 2000 and 2002, and are the oldest buses in CTA’s fleet – each averaging more than 584,000 miles. Future contract options, if exercised, would allow CTA to begin retiring the oldest of the 40 foot, New Flyer 1000-series buses purchased beginning in 2006.

The new 40-foot Nova buses are similar to those added to the fleet in 2018, but offer a host of features to improve the customer experience and promote safety:

  • Overhead service information screens that display real-time route information, stop requests, advertisement and passenger updates.
  • Pedestrian Detection System, which provides both the operator and pedestrian alerts (visual strobe/audible alarm) when objects are in the danger zones.
  • The latest HD camera technology with a minimum of 10 interior/exterior cameras
  • Improved vinyl seat covers manufactured by Chicago-based Freedman Seating Company

The buses also include notable improvements to the wheelchair ramps at the front door, including a larger surface area and a reduced slope, making it easier for wheelchairs to use.

The CTA expects to take receipt of the first prototypes this fall, with production beginning in early 2022. With an average useful life of 12-14 years, the buses purchased today will need to be retired several years before CTA’s goal of transitioning to an all-electric fleet by 2040.

The CTA remains fully committed to this transition goal, having already taken multiple steps towards meeting it, including receiving the first six of 20 all-new electric buses that will go into service later this year. The CTA is close to completing the blueprint that will guide these efforts: the Bus Fleet Electrification Feasibility Study. This study, expected to be completed in late 2021, will evaluate bus and charging technologies, and assess current CTA facilities and the necessary building, electrical and equipment upgrades needed for full electric-bus operation.

Nova Bus, a division of Prevost Car, Inc. was awarded today’s contract following a competitive bid process. According to the terms of agreement, the CTA will purchase a minimum of 100 buses at an amount not to exceed $49.5 million, with five funded options to purchase up to 500 additional buses, plus $36.7 million in additional parts, tools and add-ons. The overall contract value is not to exceed $334 million and funded with a combination of mostly federal formula funds and CTA capital funds.

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