The CTA took another major step to modernize its bus fleet Monday when the CTA Board approved a contract for the purchase of 200 new articulated (accordion-style) buses. The contract calls for a base order of up to 80 accessible, air-conditioned buses, with options to purchase additional buses when funding becomes available.
To accommodate customers on heavily traveled routes serving downtown from the far South and North Sides, the CTA has been using articulated buses that were purchased in 1982. After almost 19 years of service, only 41 of the original 125 66-seat buses in this group are still in operation. To meet growing ridership demands, the CTA decided to move beyond replacing the existing articulated fleet and purchase additional buses. To maintain service until the new buses arrive, the CTA last year purchased 100 articulated buses from Seattle. These buses are accessible to persons with disabilities and have seats for 70 passengers.
Through Governor Ryan's Illinois FIRST program, the leadership of Mayor Daley and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and the support of the Illinois congressional delegation, the CTA is now able to buy more articulated buses and achieve other capital goals. As part of this program, the CTA Board Monday awarded a $33.8 million contract to manufacture and provide spare parts for up to 80 60-foot buses to North American Bus Industries, Inc. (NABI), of Anniston, Alabama, which was the lowest bidder. These 62-seat, air-conditioned and ADA-compliant buses are expected to begin entering service in 2003.
?The action we are taking today will provide long-term service improvements for customers who use our busiest express bus lines, and will help meet growing ridership needs on other lines," said CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. ?As they replace older models, these new buses will also make our fleet more than 99 percent accessible to customers with disabilities, and will help make our service more attractive to people who may not have used the CTA regularly in the past."
Floors on the NABI buses will be only 14? inches off the ground for easier boarding and exiting, compared to three steps and floors that are 35 inches off the ground on CTA's original fleet of articulated buses. The new buses will have wide-stream front doorways and a hydraulically operated front-door ramp for access by customers in wheelchairs. They will also have surveillance cameras for added security, and windows covered with vandal-resistant material.
The NABI buses will be CTA's second order purchased under the Standard Bus Procurement Guidelines (SBPG) that were developed by transit industry leaders and endorsed by the Federal Transit Administration to simplify the bus procurement process and make it more cost effective. The CTA was the first major transit agency in the nation to use the guidelines when it ordered standard-sized buses from Nova BUS Inc. in 1998. The first of these buses are now operating out of the CTA's 77th Street garage, and will be seen throughout the CTA service area as more buses are delivered. The CTA's NABI buses are the first articulated models to be purchased under SBPG, and use of the guidelines is expected to save the agency several million dollars.
?Recent newspaper reports indicate that good public transportation has been a major factor in increasing downtown office occupancy levels, and in attracting skilled workers to this area," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. "To meet growing service needs, the CTA will be upgrading both its bus and rail fleets. This year will see the arrival of more than 300 new Nova buses and the rehabilitation of 475 lift-equipped buses purchased 10 years ago that will go back into service with new air-conditioning units. Later this year we also plan to go out for bid for about 150 rail cars to replace the cars with narrow side doors that are now 30 years old."
# # #