Here Comes the Bus

A beautiful batch of new buses will soon join the Capital Metro fleet. In January, we placed an order for 40 buses from New Flyer. DSCN0719This week the manufacturer sent us a pilot bus so bus operators, mechanics, trainers and other staff can check it out to make sure it meets our specifications. It gives us one last chance to make any changes before New Flyer completes and delivers the order.

This bus is very similar to the existing New Flyer buses in our fleet. But we’ve added some key enhancements to improve the customer and bus operator experience as well as efficiency. Some of the new features include:

Two Zone Climate Control System: Currently the operator has one temperature control for the entire bus. On the new buses, the operator will have a separate control for the temperature at the front of the bus. This is helpful because with the front door constantly opening and closing, the front of the bus is generally warmer. Now the operators will be able to keep it cooler up front without freezing customers in the back.

Enhanced Wheelchair Securement System: A new timed tension release lever will allow operators to secure mobility devices more easily.

Anti-Graffiti Windows: You can’t really tell while looking, but the windows have a separate clear layer of plastic on them. So if a passenger defaces a window (don’t do this; it’s against the law), we can replace the outer layer for a few dollars rather than replace the whole window

Touch-to-Open Rear Door: Passengers on the new 40-foot buses will be able to open the rear door (once it’s safely activated by the operator which turns the light over the door green) simply by touching it, and then the door will close automatically once it’s clear. This will help keep customers sitting near the rear door more comfortable since the door won’t have to stay open as long

rear door for blog

Adjustable Pedals: Besides adjusting their seat, bus operators will be able adjust the location of the pedals with the simple push of a button for a more comfortable driving experience.

Lower Farebox: The fareboxes on our buses are positioned to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. However, based on staff and customer feedback, we determined it would be better to have the top of the fareboxes even shorter than what the ADA calls for. So on our new buses, the fareboxes will be mounted six inches lower.

Improved Interior Lighting: The new buses have a more efficient and effective interior lighting system. The intensity of the lights can be adjusted based on the level of natural light coming through the windows. Also, as an added safety measure, the interior lights turn off when the bus is in reverse. Operators and mechanics who have to back the buses in the yard have noted that at night it’s much easier to see without the reflection of the lights in the windows.

New Bike Racks: The new bike racks work in a manner similar to the old ones, but they are less expensive to buy and the parts that frequently wear out or are damaged can more easily be swapped out as they are bolted on instead of welded.

bike rack 2 for blog

bike rack for blog

Electric Engine Cooling Fans: The new buses have eight small electric fans to cool the radiator instead of one big hydraulic one. The new fans are controlled by “smart” modules meaning they can do the same cooling job while consuming less energy.

cooling fans for blog

Narrow Profile Rear View Mirrors: The mirrors on the new bus have the same amount of viewing area but cast a narrower profile meaning there’s a little more room around the bus which is especially helpful in the narrow lanes of downtown. And to help let other drivers know what the bus is going to do next, turn signals have been added to the outside of each mirror.

mirror sigs for blog

Touch Tape Stop Request: Passengers can now signal for a stop by touching wall-mounted plastic strips located between each of the windows. The new touch tape sensors are more reliable than pull cords and make for cleaner look inside the bus because they don’t hang in front of the windows.

stop request for blog

High Mount Stop Lights: Look way up at the top on the back of the bus and you’ll see two extra high mount stop lights. These brake lights will help drivers who are way back in traffic to recognize earlier that the bus is coming to a stop and give them a little more time to react.

rear lights

The new buses will replace existing ones that have reached the end of their useful life span. They should be on the streets this fall.

8 thoughts on “Here Comes the Bus

  1. What do y’all do with retired buses? Is there a ranch for retired buses someplace to live out the rest of their days in peace? 🙂 Or do you cannibalize them for parts? Or sell them at auction?

  2. kirktalbott

    Sorry Lee,

    We are only putting the WiFi on the Express buses and the trains at this time. If we ever hit the money lotto I would love to be the first bus company with 100% WiFi equipment on all vehicles, but the monthly operational cost would be very expensive for a fleet of over 400 vehicles.

  3. Eric

    CapMetro currently is implementing a light passenger rail system that runs from Leander to downtown Austin and has a couple stops along the way, such as the Kramer lane station, the Lakeline blvd Station in Cedar Park, and the Crestview station on N Lamar. Capital Metro has been working on getting the Light rail system up and running for 3 years now and is announcing its opening in mid to late March, 2010

  4. Eric: If you’re responding to Ted Roll’s comment, I’m pretty sure he was being facetious – he was referring to the fact that the commuter rail system (not light rail) is several years late in getting started.

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