Six new City of Lethbridge Transit buses are making a positive impact on the community thanks to innovations that reduce pollution and improve accessibility. Major enhancements include mechanical upgrades that save fuel and reduce emissions and a fully automated restraint system for riders using a wheelchair.
"We are really pleased with the improvements these new buses bring to our city." Councillor Blaine Hyggen who is a member of the Canadian Urban Transit Association. "These enhancement help us advance in the important areas of environmental protection and in creating an accessible city for all citizens."
With engines built to the current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards and clean diesel technology, the new buses are estimated to save more than 13 litres of fuel per 100 kms. Lower fuel consumption means less greenhouse gas emissions and an approximate $13,700 fuel savings per bus each year. The new buses also have enhanced particulate filters designed to remove soot and reduce CO2 from the exhaust of the diesel engine. This further reduces the environmental impact. Overall the new buses are expected to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 33 per cent.
"These are all very positive steps in our efforts to be a more environmentally responsible city," says Mayor Chris Spearman, "We will continue to look for opportunities that can advance our transit fleet to be efficient and sustainable in the future."
For passengers using wheelchairs and electric scooters, the new buses will offer a more convenient and safer ride. A new restraint system called Quantum provides a more secure and user friendly option than the traditional strap restraints.
In the past, riders using wheelchairs relied on the driver to help strap them into the bus restraint. The new system allows the user to simply back into the spot and hit a button which automatically locks them in place in just seconds.
"Quantum provides more independence for our transit users." says Kevin Ponech, Transit Operations Manager. "Drivers will be there to assist riders in getting secured into the restraint but more often than not, they will be able to do this themselves which gives them more freedom. It also eliminates the risk of the chair slipping or tipping when the bus is in motion improving safety for our residents."
The City will add two more new buses to their fleet in the coming months that will include the Quantum system. These additions to the fleet will be 10 feet smaller than the traditional 40 foot buses making them more efficient and maneuverable along residential routes.
The City of Lethbridge has a five year plan (2015-2020) for the replacement and expansion of the Transit fleet. This plan includes the replacement of 19 aging buses and the addition of four new buses to accommodate community growth. This project, totaling approximately $13 million is fully funded through provincial and federal grants. Roughly two thirds of the project is funded through the Government of Alberta's Green Transit Incentives Program (GreenTRIP) and the remaining third is supported by the Federal Gas Tax Fund. The six new buses now in operation cost approximately $560,000 each.
The City will evaluate the success of the newly introduced buses and use this information when deciding on requirements for future fleet replacements.
Lethbridge Transit operates an extensive public transit system with 42 buses over 11 routes covering an area of 125 square kilometers and carries over 1.2 million riders per year.
More information visit www.lethbridge.ca/transit.
Kevin Ponech, Transit Operations Manager