Chicago Transit Authority officials were on hand today at the University of Chicago's annual Student Activities Fair to welcome one of the new shorter, narrower Optima buses the agency has purchased to better navigate the narrow streets throughout the Hyde Park neighborhood. CTA has received the first six of 45 buses ordered and initially deployed them on routes that serve Hyde Park and the University of Chicago. As buses continue to arrive throughout the end of the year they will be assigned to several other local routes that operate on narrow streets as well as routes with lower peak-hour ridership.
"These new Optima buses are shorter and narrower than our standard 40-foot buses, which allow our bus operators to more easily navigate local streets. The buses help CTA better match service with ridership and realize cost efficiencies that come from operating a smaller vehicle," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Investing in new buses for the fleet improves reliability and performance for customers."
Last year, CTA purchased 10 35-foot used Orion buses from Pace in order to make the CTA fleet fully accessible to people with disabilities while waiting on delivery of the new Optima buses. CTA will retire the 16-year-old, high mileage Orions within the next few months.
?It is critical that we continue to invest in CTA's fleet and facilities so we can meet current demand and, for the health of the region's economy and our quality of life, meet the region's growing customer demand," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?We are grateful to our region's Congressional delegation, which has shown remarkable bipartisan cooperation in successfully securing capital funds to continue investment in CTA's infrastructure, including the purchase of new buses."
Equipped with low emission engines, the low floor, air-conditioned, accessible buses have the same features as existing buses in the fleet, including security cameras, bike racks, automated announcements and automatic passenger counters that provide route usage information to further improve schedules and monitor ridership patterns.
The Optima buses will be deployed on the following routes: #170 U. Of Chicago/Midway, #171 U. of Chicago/Hyde Park, #172 U. of Chicago/Kenwood, #173 U. of Chicago/Lakeview Express, #174 U. of Chicago/Garfield and the #192 U. of Chicago Hospitals Express.
CTA has a service agreement with the University of Chicago to provide six bus routes for the University of Chicago. These subsidized routes are #170 U. of Chicago/Midway; #171 U. of Chicago/Hyde Park; #172 U. of Chicago/Kenwood; the #173 U. of Chicago/Lakeview Express; the #191 U. of Chicago Hospitals Express; and the new #174 U of Chicago/Garfield, which began providing direct rail station connections between the University and the Hospital and the Garfield Green Line and Garfield Red Line stations earlier this month.
Buses will be assigned to additional CTA bus routes as needed.
Since 2000, CTA has purchased more than 1,200 new buses for the fleet. The introduction of particulate filters and ultra low sulfur diesel fuel along with the improved environmental performance of newer buses has helped CTA to reduce its bus fleet's total 2005 annual emissions by 22 percent, or 564 tons, since 1997. By converting to ultra low sulfur diesel fuel in 2003, the CTA is well ahead of schedule in implementing the 2007 Federal Emission requirements for reduced particulate matter and carbon monoxide.
The $15.5 million competitively bid contract to Optima Bus Corporation of Wichita, Kansas, was approved by the Chicago Transit Board in September 2005. The base order of 45 buses is funded through grants from the Federal Transit Administration and Regional Transportation Authority.# # #