TriMet unveils the first of a fleet of new buses

TriMet unveils the first of a fleet of new buses

PORTLAND, Ore. - TriMet riders will begin stepping foot on new buses in the coming weeks, starting with five that are being rolled out on Thursday.

This is the first time in three years that TriMet has purchased new buses. There will be 55 new ones hitting the pavement - five the first week and three each week after that until they are all in service.

This week, the busy 9-Powell Boulevard and 72-Killingsworth/82nd Avenue lines will get some new buses. Those two lines were chosen for the initial launch because they operate out of the Powell bus facility where maintenance staff can frequently check them out.

Of the 55 buses, 51 are standard diesel and four are hybrids. They feature a streamlined front end with a bigger windshield, larger side windows, a lighter interior color scheme, brighter LED lighting, vinyl seats and a longer, more gradual sloped boarding ramp for riders that use mobility devices.

As far as the price tag, the diesel buses cost $440,691 each (for a total of just over $22 million) and the hybrid buses cost $607,739 each (for a total of just over $2 million). Federal grants are covering 93 percent of the cost.

TriMet's annual bus purchase program was suspended back in 2009 when the economy took a downturn but it has now been reinstated. The goal is to have the entire fleet made up of low-floor buses by 2017 and lower the average age of the bus fleet to eight years by fiscal year 2020. Right now, some of TriMet's buses are more than 20 years old.

TriMet also plans to add another 68 new buses next year, for a total of 123 new buses on the road by 2013.

The buses are being produced by a California company called Gillig.