New city buses are soon headed to the streets of San Diego.
The Metropolitan Transit System’s (MTS) board of directors recently approved the purchase of 53 new low-floor, compressed, natural gas buses for the city’s public transportation system.
The board also gave MTS the option to purchase seven more low-floor San Diego trolley cars. Those would be in addition to the 57 low-floor trolley cars already on order from Siemens Industry, Inc., based in Sacramento.
MTS said these new low-floor trolley cars are 80-feet long and seat 60 passengers. They feature easy access boarding for wheelchairs and strollers via ramps.
For now, the total cost of the new buses will amount to $22.3 million. If the additional seven trolleys are purchased, those will cost $26.9 million.
According to MTS, the 53 new buses will be delivered to San Diego between May and August. The plan is for 31 of those buses to operate out of the MTS bus yard on Imperial Avenue, while the other 22 operate out of the South Bay Maintenance facility in Chula Vista.
As the new vehicles roll in, MTS said they’ll retire old buses that have reached the end of their useful public transportation lifecycle.
By the time all of the backordered low-floor trolley cars are delivered to San Diego in 2014, MTS said they'll be able to include at least two low-floor cars on every trolley train to make access easier for all passengers.
MTS is in the process of also retiring a fleet of U-2 high-floor trolley cars originally purchased in 1980. Over the decades, those cars have traveled more than 2 million miles and carried more than 9 million passengers.
“These [new buses and trolley cars] are significant purchases for our agency. We will soon have one of the nation’s most modern fleet in both our rail and bus divisions,” said Paul Jablonski, chief executive officer of MTS.