IL: CTA Buys 100 New Buses, Piggybacking on Seattle Contract

May 10--Calling it too good of a deal to pass up, the CTA board on Wednesday approved the purchase of 100 new accordion-style buses, averaging $800,000 each, that were left over from a contract initiated by the Seattle transit system.

The CTA will payNew Flyer Industries Inc.$80.1 million for the 67 clean-diesel buses and 33 diesel-electric hybrid buses. The 60-foot articulated buses were part of an order for up to 715 buses that King County Metro Transit in Seattle agreed to buy from New Flyer. The CTA will use federal and local funds.

The new buses will be delivered late this year through the middle of 2013, said Marina Popovic, the CTA's vice president of purchasing and warehousing. The buses will begin replacing 40-foot Nova buses that have been in service for almost 12 years, which is the recommended service life for transit buses.

Popovic called the $80.1 million acquisition of the 100 New Flyers "a very good price because we looked at how comparable it was to our last purchase from New Flyer and it was literally within several thousand dollars (per bus) of our previous purchase."

"Because the emission standards have changed over the course of the last several years, the prices have gone up," she said.

The CTA is paying $740,000 for each of the 67 diesel buses and $897,000 for each of the 33 hybrid buses, CTA spokeswoman Molly Sullivan said. The purchase from New Flyer includes spare parts and extended warranties, she said.

CTA President Forrest Claypool said the new buses will be assigned primarily to routes where ridership has increased and buses are packed to standing room only during rush periods.

"Part of it is adding capacity to de-crowd on peak points," Claypool said. "It is basically to make the experience more comfortable for our riders and more appealing to them."

The bus purchase marks the CTA's third arrangement with the Seattle system in recent years. In 2007, the CTA struck a deal with Seattle Metro to buy 150 diesel-electric articulated buses, at a discount of about $60,000 per bus, CTA officials said at the time. In 2000, the CTA paid $2 million for 113 old accordion-style King County buses. The buses, 18 years old at the time, provided service for several years to bridge a gap between new bus purchases.

jhilkevitch@tribune.com

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