SFMTA to Purchase 45 New Low-Floor Hybrid Muni Buses

One of Muni's existing 40-foot Orion hybrid buses. The new hybrids will be different models. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/pfsullivan_1056/5517865198/in/photostream/##THE Holy Hand Grenade!/Flickr##

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.

  • Anonymous

    …but all door boarding means the driver should open the rear doors at stops, not the passengers, right?

  • What kind of bio- is in the bio-Diesel?

  • Does anyone know how this 20-year lifespan compares with buses in other cities?

  • Anonymous

    Are these buses significantly quieter than the current diesel ones?

  • Tony Vi

    The average age of Muni’s entire 40ft motor coach fleet is comparable to other cities.  Muni 9.4; VTA 9.0; AC Transit 7.3; LACMTA 9.1; NYCT 8.0; King County Metro 10.8; WMATA 8.6.  It’s definitely at the higher range of peer agencies though.  Other agencies do have very old buses though, so Muni is not alone.  WMATA has 110 buses at 16-20yrs old; MBTA has 120 buses at 16-20yrs old.  Check out the National Transit Database Table 25 for the breakdown of transit fleets by agency.

  • Mario Tanev

    Wait, so Muni is buying a different type of bus, but still wants the problematic type of door? Why?

  • TN

    As I understand it, the federal government standards for funding purchases of new buses require that the bus last 20 years. So, whether or not the buses are worn out at 20 years or even sooner, they can be replaced by buses purchased with federal funds at 20. So unsurprisingly, the average age of buses in various systems is about 10 years.

    I don’t know if with better maintenance that buses could be made to last longer. Or whether empirically, it is just no longer cost effective no matter how good the maintenance is to keep a 20 year old bus going.

  • David D.

    TN, regular heavy-duty buses such as these have a 12-year life cycle. Agencies can choose to replace or repower their buses. Well maintained buses can last much longer than 12 years. Golden Gate Transit, for example, often chooses to repower its buses so they can stay in service for 15+ years.

  • BK


  • Sprague

    From my experience, some Muni drivers do not open the rear doors if no one is getting off the bus.  So, despite “all door boarding” bus stop dwell times sometimes still are as slow as ever. 

  • Somewhat quieter, yes.  They use an electric motor for propulsion (along with a diesel engine to generate electricity) that is quieter than a traditional diesel bus.

  • Scott Dier

    Does anyone know why Muni is buying 2 different kinds of hybrid systems? Doesn’t this entail a complexity in maintenance?  (at least if one of the two systems fail to work well in SF we only ‘lose’ half the vehicles)

    XDE40 (ISL / EV50) hybrid coach $741,069 23 $17,044,584XDE40 (ISB / BAE) hybrid coach $691,941 22 $15,222,697

  • EZ

    That’s for the trolley buses and it’s probably the industry standard for them. The running gear doesn’t wear out as quickly as diesels, they’re more expensive, and are special order since few systems use them any more.

  • Earle_in_houston

    Aaron’s got the numbers reversed on the current hybrids. Only 30 of them are 30-footers.

    I’m surprised Muni and Flyer will do business with each other again. Muni did a lot of blame laying on them for past problems.

  • John Banks

    Are the wheelchair lift’s working on the new buses?


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