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April 16, 2013 > First of new fleet of buses

First of new fleet of buses

A better ride, low floor, low emissions, locally built

Submitted By Clarence Johnson

AC Transit is beginning a new era of Bay Area transportation with the launch of new 40-foot buses that are locally-made and well-designed to promise greater reliability and a better ride for customers.

With a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 28, 2013 at its Seminary Avenue bus yard, the agency embraced a "Buy America" policy by unveiling the first of 65 new buses engineered by the Gillig Corporation in Hayward. It is the first step toward upgrading a fleet of nearly 700 buses by opting to buy as many as 300 American-made buses over the next two years to replace aging, less dependable vehicles.

The Gillig bus purchase kicks-off "A Better Ride" campaign of service and performance enhancing initiatives throughout the agency. Among other things, the initiatives are designed to improve on-time bus performance, internal efficiencies and overall service reliability. The campaign will also include a quality assurance program to maintain cleaner buses.

"We need new buses and I think it is important to buy locally," said AC Transit Board President Greg Harper who attended the ceremony along with other Board members, agency staff and representatives from the Gillig Corporation and Titan Advertising. "These are just the first of the new buses we're getting. They are part of an overall plan to become more efficient. People are going to see better service from us."

Gillig is the second-largest producer of transit buses in North America and produces around 1,200 to 1,300 buses per year for hundreds of different customers, from Alaska to Florida. Most of the buses they build are powered by the world's cleanest and most efficient diesel engines. Today's clean diesel engines are more fuel efficient and also emit up to 90 percent fewer exhaust emissions.

AC Transit's contract with Gillig provided dozens of local jobs, spurred local business and stimulated the regional economy but just as important is the end product: a state-of the-art, smooth-riding, low-maintenance, passenger and environmentally-friendly vehicle unlike anything East Bay bus travelers have seen.

No steps are required to board the 40-foot long, diesel-fueled vehicle. It is a low-floor wonder, allowing riders to easily board and seat themselves. This eliminates the uncertainty of uneven boarding surface which reduces the chances for passenger falls and minimizes the dwell time at bus stops to help keep buses on schedule.

This bus has an elaborate catalytic reduction and gas re-circulation system that converts hazardous nitrogen oxide emissions into harmless nitrogen and water. It makes these new buses 90 percent cleaner than the older ones they replace.

The new bus seats are plastic inserts that can be easily cleaned and replaced. If the exterior bus panels are damaged, they can be quickly removed and replaced, too, by merely loosening/tightening two bolts.

The engine compartment is unusually spacious for easier, faster maintenance. The hoses and hydrolytic system are of superior quality to ensure reliable mechanical functions overall and replacement parts can be quickly obtained because they are produced virtually in our backyard.

It means fewer and faster repairs, more vehicles on the road providing service, enhanced on-time performance, lower emissions, reduced maintenance costs, financial savings that can be used to provide even more service and, for our customers, "A Better Ride."

For a promotional video, visit

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