Mayor Edwin M. Lee and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) announced that for the first time since 2007 the agency will begin deploying new Muni buses this week.
As part of the agency’s plan to replace the entire bus fleet over the next five years, this procurement of 62 low-floor biodiesel-electric hybrid buses from New Flyer Industries will improve transit service, improve the overall customer experience, and bring clean, brand-new vehicles that use state-of-the-art hybrid and biofuel technologies to make one of the cleanest fleets in the nation even cleaner.
“Investing in infrastructure and operations will help improve and sustain our transit service for the long term,” Lee said. “These new hybrid Muni buses demonstrate our commitment to a green and clean future for our City's transit system and will help improve transit times and rider experience. In order to keep these buses looking new, we must also embrace the efforts of the Giant Sweep campaign that rejects the idea that it is okay to litter.”
“These buses will allow for an improved Muni system,” said Tom Nolan, chairman of the board of directors. “Not only will they make for better service, but they will continue the work we are doing to be one of the cleanest fleets in the country.”
Upgrades to Customer Service
“Mechanical vehicle issues are a significant cause of system delays on Muni,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA director of transportation. “These new buses serve as another investment in Muni’s future and the future of transportation in our city. Improving existing service will not only enhance our current customers’ experience, but it helps further our commitment to San Francisco’s transit first policy by attracting new riders.”
In addition to standard safety and customer service features, such as the digital voice announcements, the new Muni hybrid buses greet customers with a 15-inch low-floor design that makes boarding easier for everyone. They also have graffiti-resistant seating material, the new Muni contact-less rear door system (just like the Orion hybrids and the rehabbed Neoplan biodiesel buses), more hanger straps for standing customers, and a new feature: all-door boarding exterior buttons that allow customers to open the back doors to board.
Even Greener Buses
Like all of Muni’s non-electric vehicles, these biodiesel-electric hybrid buses use B-20 fuel and a fuel treatment that allows the emissions to burn hotter and cleaner. The batteries on these hybrids use the vehicle’s power to restore energy to the battery pack, thereby using less fuel and reducing emissions. All interior and exterior lighting on these buses is provided by more efficient and cost-effective light-emitting diodes (LED). The biodegradable coolant is synthetic and not petroleum-based. The buses are made, wherever possible, from composite materials, which are lighter and stronger than traditional materials. For example, the floors are made of a composite material that absorbs no water rather than marine-grade plywood.
The New Flyer hybrid buses are among the first in Muni’s fleet to be outfitted with the transit system’s new state-of-the-art onboard surveillance system. Each bus will have nine cameras that will provide three times the video coverage over the existing camera systems. The new digital video recording system allows staff to review, investigate and download data from a moving or stationary vehicle within the WiFi catchment area and auto-archive relevant information. A key feature is the ability to remotely monitor the system to ensure that all aspects are working properly.
These clean, friendly and easy to use buses also have world-class accessibility features to keep all San Francisco residents and visitors on the move. The new low-floor design, which has been improved from the first version of low-floor buses at Muni, means that the kneeling height of the floors is just 10 inches from the street. The front door ramps have a slope that is as flat as possible for easy maneuvering and is nearly level at the curb. The ramps can also be deployed manually if necessary. The rear-door widths of 41 inches will provide an additional option for those who can use the rear door to exit or board. In addition to these innovative features and wider internal space, these buses include Muni’s standard two staggered wheelchair securements. The internal LED destination signs and digital voice announcements help guide those who may need visual or auditory assistance.
The SFMTA Multimodal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC) provided advice on the specifications and prototype for these buses. This community input has been crucial to improving the riding experience for our customers.
Better for Bus Operators
The new biodiesel-electric hybrid buses were designed in close coordination with Muni Operators, the men and women who provide Muni’s more than 200 million customer trips per year. The improved Muni Operator features include better work area ergonomics as well as more comfortable and adjustable seats. The steering columns on these new hybrids are integrated into the dashboards to allow for tilting and telescoping. This, along with adjustable brake and throttle pedals, provides for greater comfort and control. The powerful engines moving these buses will be able to sustain speeds of eight miles per hour on a continuous grade of 23 percent and 15 miles per hour on a 10 percent grade. With San Francisco’s notorious hills, that means greater power on the inclines and a smoother, less lurching ride for everyone on board. Finally, the over-raise feature gives these buses a lift on particularly steep hills to prevent them from bottoming-out.
In order to expedite the purchasing process, the SFMTA joined a current, competitively bid vehicle contract with the State of Minnesota. The vehicles specified under the Minnesota contract were updated to include features necessary for San Francisco’s unique operating environment and high passenger loads. The total vehicle cost will be approximately $33.8 million or $752,000 per vehicle and is funded through federal, state, and local support. These new vehicles will replace 13-year-old buses currently in service.
The SFMTA is aggressively pursuing replacement and rehabilitation programs on all buses, light rail vehicles, and historic streetcars. Within the next two years, SFMTA expects to purchase 60 articulated trolley buses to replace current 20 year old vehicles. These programs directly support the agency’s two-year budget, focusing on maintenance and infrastructure improvements.