Metro showcases new vehicles, bus body and paint shop funded by federal Recovery Act dollars
New vehicles, facility improve safety, reliability
Metro officially unveiled new Metrobuses and MetroAccess vehicles today, September 13, and offered a sneak preview of early construction on a new bus body and paint shop funded by federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars.
The new vehicles and facility will help improve safety and provide more reliable service. Already, the introduction of new buses has played a significant role in improving reliability. For the months of June and July, Metro achieved the best Mean Distance Between Failure (MDBF) rate in Metrobus history, increasing the number of miles buses stay on the road and reducing the number of mechanical breakdowns. Metro posted a MDBF of 6,578 miles in June, a 30 percent improvement from June 2009, and a MDBF of 6,670 miles in July, a 26 percent improvement from July 2009.
The reduction in mechanical breakdowns is attributed to the reduction of the average Metrobus fleet age from 8.24 to 7.12 years, resulting from the new buses. The new MetroAccess vehicles reduced the average fleet age from 3 to 2.6 years.
Nearly $202 million was allocated to Metro from the federal government to fund ARRA projects, of which $52 million—or one quarter of the funds—was used to purchase 48 new diesel-electric hybrid buses, 80 paratransit vehicles and construct a new bus body and paint shop.
“Washington Metro’s wise investment of Recovery Act dollars has created jobs right here in the D.C. area, as well as jobs in communities that were involved in manufacturing the new vehicles,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “These investments will also help sustain economic growth in the long-run.”
More than 30 jobs have been created in the procurement and manufacturing of the new Metrobuses and MetroAccess vehicles. It is anticipated that more than 125 jobs will be created through the construction of the bus facility.
“In addition to putting people in the D.C. area to work, these Recovery Act dollars will also mean Washington Metrobus riders will have a cleaner, safer ride,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. “And they can be assured that by taking the bus, they are doing their part to reduce America’s dependence on oil and clean up the air.”
The new vehicles and maintenance shop represent a quarter of the investment Metro is making with $202 million in federal funds received as part of the ARRA program. “We already have 95 percent of those ARRA funds under contract, creating jobs and enhancing transit service in the Washington metropolitan area,” said Metro Board Chairman Peter Benjamin. “Through July, 394 jobs have been created as a result of Metro’s 30 ARRA projects.”
“The federal government’s timely investment is yielding many returns,” said Mortimer Downey, a federal government representative on the Metro Board. “Metro is creating jobs in the community, improving safety for our customers and employees with new vehicles and a better working environment, increasing its efficiency in a facility that allows for better production and, ultimately, providing more reliable service for thousands of customers who rely on us each day.”
Metro began receiving the new diesel-electric hybrid buses and MetroAccess vehicles earlier this year. After passing necessary inspections and drive tests, the vehicles were put into service. All of the new vehicles are equipped with DriveCam safety cameras, which help improve safety by documenting incidents and assisting operators to develop safer, more efficient driving habits.
The new Metrobuses have a sleek, aerodynamic, bus rapid transit-style look and were manufactured by New Flyer Industries of America in Crookston, MN. The buses are 42 feet long and cost $558,288 each, for a total of $27 million. The buses are operating out of the Northern Bus Garage in Northwest Washington, DC, serving customers on Metro’s priority bus corridors along 16th Street and Georgia Avenue in the District of Columbia and along Colesville Road/Columbia Pike in Maryland.
Metro has a fleet of 1,518 buses, including 460 compressed natural gas (CNG), 355 diesel-electric hybrid buses, 117 clean-diesel buses and 586 diesel buses. Diesel-electric hybrid buses decrease Metro’s diesel fuel consumption by more than 300,000 gallons annually and reduce more than 90 percent of carbon monoxide, particulate matter and hydrocarbon emissions, and more than 67 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions.
In addition to the new MetroAccess vehicles and Metrobuses, Metro is using ARRA funds to construct a modern body and paint shop in Landover, MD. Expected to be completed next September, the facility is a state-the-art, body and paint shop for overall structural maintenance and repair of Metrobuses and nonrevenue equipment.
The new shop will be used to conduct paint and body repair work that is currently being completed at the Bladensburg Bus Garage, which is more than 40 years old. The new Landover facility will allow Metro to paint 300 buses annually, tripling the current number of 100 buses that are painted at Bladensburg. One 60-foot and four 40-foot paint booths will be climate controlled, which translates into less drying time to get the buses back into service quickly. The climate controlled paint booths also will result in a finer and more exact paint finish on the vehicles. Separate areas for preparation and painting will enable the paint area to remain sanitized and free of dust, dirt and paint chips, making for improved working conditions. Ventilation systems will provide a more environmentally friendly and safer work area for employees. Additional vehicle lifts will decrease the time that buses are off the road due to necessary maintenance requirements.
The new MetroAccess vehicles, which cost $3.7 million, will enable Metro to provide safer and more efficient service for people with disabilities who are unable to use Metrobus or Metrorail. The chassis, or frame of the vans, was manufactured by Ford in Ohio and the paratransit conversion was completed by Braun Corporation in Indiana. The $47,187 vans are in use throughout the MetroAccess service area.
More than 426,000 trips are taken on Metrobus and 8,500 trips are taken on MetroAccess on an average weekday.
News release issued at 6:25 pm, September 13, 2010.