Sometime in the distant future, the sweltering hot and humid experience aboard a Metro Vancouver public transit bus during the summer months will come to an end.
TransLink says that 21 New Flyer Xcelsior XDE60 articulated 60-foot-long, three-door buses will be added to the fleet over the coming weeks and months as part of an ongoing effort to replace aging bus vehicles.
All the while, these buses will be air conditioned to improve the comfort and safety of both passengers and drivers during the warmer months – and the requirement will also extend to all future buses purchased by the transit agency.
“Air-conditioning is now the standard for all TransLink’s fleet procurement,” TransLink spokesperson Chris Bryan told Vancity Buzz. “As older vehicles are retired, the new replacement buses will have air-conditioning systems installed.”
As well, the new additions to the bus fleet will be more environmentally friendly than older models as the vehicles will utilize diesel-electric hybrid technology. The buses will also have an improved seating layout and be outfitted with electric doors that provide consistent opening and closing times.
The transit agency says twelve of the new buses will replace the entire fleet of articulated buses that currently serve the 96 B-Line in Surrey. The remaining new buses will be used on routes such as the 99 B-Line, 135, and 44.
But it will be many more years before the entire bus fleet is replaced with air-conditioned models, given that the existing non-air-conditioned buses will not be replaced until they have reached the end of their useful life.
TransLink’s bus fleet currently spans approximately 1,500 buses, including 144 community shuttles. The 40 and 60-foot-long buses that run with combustion engines typically have a lifespan of between 15 to 20 years, or a mileage of one million kilometres, while the electric trolleys with less moving parts have a lifespan of about 25 years.
However, 62 community shuttle vehicles are being replaced early, ahead of their seven-year life span, because toxic fumes are prone to leak into the passenger cabins.
Later this year, TransLink will introduce 28 new train cars onto the SkyTrain system – on the Expo, Millennium, and future Evergreen line routes. The new generation Bombardier Mark III cars will be assembled into four-car fully articulated trains, meaning passengers will be able to walk from one of the train to the other end.