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SFMTA to Purchase 45 New Low-Floor Hybrid Muni Buses

Good news for Muni riders who are tired of bus breakdowns: Muni will get 45 new low-floor, biodiesel hybrid buses to replace its aging fleet. The agreement was approved yesterday by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors.

The buses, which will be similar to Muni's existing hybrid buses rolled out in 2007, will replace existing diesel buses that have been in service since 1999. The buses will be purchased from New Flyer Industries in Minnesota -- different models than the existing Orion hybrids, but they will use the same doors by request of the SFMTA, according to the agreement [PDF]. As Streetsblog wrote in 2009, the touch-activated rear doors on Muni's hybrids can be difficult to open for many passengers.

All of the new vehicles will be 40 feet long, which is the larger of the two sizes in Muni's existing hybrid fleet. Of the current 86 hybrids, 56 are 40 feet long, and the rest are 30 feet.

The buses not only save on fuel, pollute less, and require less maintenance, but their low floors are also easier for passengers to board, since there are no stairs to climb. That means less time spent waiting for passengers to board, while those with wheelchairs can use ramps that come equipped on the buses.

The total cost of the purchase is $33.8 million, or $752,000 per vehicle, which comes from federal, state, and local funds, according to the SFMTA. The agency says it also plans to replace 60 articulated buses within the next two years. Those buses have been in service for 20 years.

Muni expects to receive the new hybrids by the end of summer 2013.

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