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DRT buying new buses

Durham_Region_Transit_8509-a.jpgDRT’s new conventional buses are New Flyer Xcelsior models, similar to this one, posing at Ajax GO Station in 2011.

Durham Region Transit recently received 15 new conventional 12-metre buses and eight specialized service buses that it bought through the Transit Procurement Initiative, which Metrolinx co-ordinates.

This initiative has resulted in DRT buying 68 buses from three vendors and has saved taxpayers more than $900,000.

DRT has been taking part in the procurement initiative to buy 12-metre conventional buses since 2006. The partnership awarded its most recent contract to build conventional buses to Winnipeg’s New Flyer Industries Limited. To date, DRT has bought 58 New Flyer buses through this process. It expects to receive another eight buses later in 2012.

By buying these new buses, DRT has reduced the average age of its conventional fleet to 8.1 years. The New Flyer Xcelsior is an air-conditioned, accessible low-floor model with ramp and ‘kneel’ functions. It is fuel-efficient, lighter in weight than older buses of the same model, with four-wheel disc brakes, an electrical cooling system and a ‘clean diesel’ low-emission engine.

The model complies with the specifications that the Accessibility for Ontarians Disability Act (AODA) outlines, relating to accessibility of the ramps, the means to secure mobility aids and contrasting colours on surface edges. It features a wider and less steep ramp, so that passengers can board the buses more easily. In a media release, DRT explains that the new buses move the transit agency closer to its goalof operating a fully accessible conventional fleet by 2014. The new buses also let DRT retire nine older, non-accessible buses that have reached the end of their serviceable life. DRT will deploy six of the fifteen new units to expand its service.

In 2008, Metrolinx expanded the program to include 9-metre community buses. Metrolinx and its local transit partners recently awarded a contract for supplying community buses to City View Bus and Truck Repair and Sales Limited, which markets the Eldorado EZ Rider II model.

DRT bought and received one Eldorado unit in 2009 and another in 2010. It expects to receive two more later in 2012.

In 2010, the participants in joint purchasing program started buying “specialized” transit buses for door-to-door accessible services. Crestline Coach Limited supplies DRT’s specialized units, which Goshen Coach then assembles. DRT recently acquired and put into service eight new specialized units.

The new DRT specialized services buses also comply with legislated standards and feature versatile easy-to-connect-and-release clips and straps to secure passengers’ mobility devices. The new units use an air-suspension system to offer passengers a more comfortable ride and versatile, yet consistent, interior layout to optimize the capacity for ambulatory and mobility device passengers. When they arrive from the manufacturer, DRT will retire eight older units.

The joint procurement process saves transit agencies about 4 per cent on the cost of both the community and specialized units.

Since Durham Region launched the regional transit system in January 2006, DRT has revitalized its fleet with 92 accessible buses. It has increased the size of its fleet by 22 new buses and increased ridership by 42.9 per cent. DRT operates community bus services and conventional buses along 62 routes. With this delivery, the DRT conventional and community bus fleet totals 164 vehicles. The specialized services fleet comprises 30 vehicles.