Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was joined by Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool at a Feb. 26 unveiling of the newest CTA buses that will be hitting Chicago streets this spring.
The mayor contends that the new buses, manufactured by Nova Bus, will give Chicagoans smoother, and more reliable bus trips.
“By upgrading a fleet of buses and rail cars , we are continuing to invest in providing customers with a smooth, reliable and comfortable commute and ensuring our City has world-class transit system for the 21st century,” Emanuel said. “This milestone shows the significant progress the CTA is making to provide quality service to customers and increase economic opportunity in Chicago by creating good-paying, local jobs that support families.”
The CTA has received and is currently conducting an inspection and testing on its first pilot bus as part of an order of 300 new 40-foot clean diesel buses manufactured by Nova Bus. The new buses feature a sleeker body design, bigger windows, brighter LED lighting and seamless flooring. In addition, new safety features include 10 surveillance cameras per bus and improved safety barriers between customers and the operators.
The buses will also have locally made bus seats, manufactured by 120-year-old Freedman Seating in Humboldt Park. The seats feature innovative, lightweight and durable materials that can withstand heavy use in all seasons. These lightweight seats help to reduce overall vehicle weight and, therefore, fuel costs to the CTA. The partnership between the CTA and Nova has meant the creation of 50 new jobs by Freedman, with more Freedman and local supplier jobs expected to bring the total number to about 100 new local positions.
The CTA expects to take regular delivery of the new Nova buses in April through the end of 2015 and, upon inspection and acceptance, begin putting new buses into service by May 2014. The new buses will replace Nova buses purchased by the CTA between 2000 and 2002 that are beyond their useful life. Under the Nova contract, the CTA has the option to purchase an additional 150 buses.
“The mayor and I share the commitment to modernize the CTA with critical and prudent investments that reduce the long-term costs of repairs on our buses,” said Claypool. “Just as we continue to upgrade our rail car fleet through new rail car purchases and midlife overhauls, we continue to upgrade our bus fleet to ensure quality, safe service for the 60 percent of CTA customers who ride our buses, while lowering CTA’s annual maintenance costs.”
The CTA is well into its bus modernization program. The CTA in 2012 purchased 100 New Flyer 60-foot articulated buses by piggybacking on a King County Metro (Seattle) contract, to provide a fleet for free bus shuttle service during the Red Line South reconstruction project in 2013. Those buses are now deployed throughout the system, replacing old buses that have since been retired.
The CTA’s bus modernization program also includes the midlife overhaul of more than 1,000 buses that have been in service for seven years, have accumulated more than 275,000 miles and were purchased by the CTA in 2006-2007. Overhaul work, akin to a “gut rehab”, began in 2013 and will continue through 2015, including rebuilding engines, transmissions, suspension systems, heating and air-conditioning systems, LED lighting upgrades, exterior repairs and repainting.
The CTA also continues modernization of its rail fleet, adding more than 400 of the newest generation 5000-series rail cars of a planned 714 new cars, and will continue to take delivery of those through the end of 2015. These rail cars are currently in service on the Pink and Green Lines and are currently being added to the Red Line, replacing cars that were manufactured nearly 40 years ago. The agency also is working on selecting a manufacturer for the next generation of rail cars, the 7000-series, and anticipates awarding the contract for up to 846 new rail cars by summer 2014. Delivery of the first cars would occur by early 2018.
To improve and simplify bus maintenance operations for CTA’s fleet, the agency continues its $205 million program announced in 2012 to upgrade bus and rail maintenance facilities to ultimately benefit commuters by improving fleet and facility safety and reliability. Work includes the repair or replacement of critical maintenance systems, including bus and rail car hoists, wash racks and inspection pits and other improvements.