N.Y. county adds 19 new vehicles to paratransit fleet

Posted on June 15, 2015

Photo courtesy: Rockland County
Photo courtesy: Rockland County

New York-based Rockland County’s TRIPS paratransit service has placed 19 new vehicles in service and upgraded its computer-aided dispatch system.

The new “Phoenix” model, cutaway-style, 14-passenger buses, which were purchased with federal and state funds, replace the majority of the TRIPS bus fleet.

“Today, Rockland County takes another step forward to better serve our residents with disabilities,” said County Executive Ed Day. “These buses help us provide demand-responsive public transportation for Rockland residents who are unable to use Transport of Rockland (TOR) and other fixed-route buses.”

“With these new vehicles now on the road, the average age of the total TRIPS vehicle fleet is reduced from seven to two years,” said Acting Commissioner Doug Schuetz. “A younger bus fleet helps us provide the most reliable service possible for Rockland County residents who depend on TRIPS for public paratransit transportation. These buses also offer lower fuel costs and are cleaner to operate – high priorities in these times.”

Each Phoenix vehicle is wheelchair accessible, featuring a side-entry lift near the front of the bus with double leaf lift doors. Vehicle interiors seat 14 ambulatory passengers, or up to three standard-sized wheelchair passengers with six ambulatory passengers. The buses feature Q-straint fully retractable wheelchair securement systems, solar tinted windows, a flat-floor configuration with no wheel well protrusion in the passenger compartment along with 74 inches of interior headroom, pillow-top seats, body air conditioning systems with low-profile A/C units, and underseat heating systems.

Safety-added features include bright, yellow-nosed entry steps, ribbed rubber aisles with transit grade floor rubber, and cameras that provide drivers with a clear view of the rear of the bus.

The buses also feature a Ford E-450 chassis with a 158-inch dual rear-wheel base, high volume 5.4 Liter V8 gasoline/E-85 flex fuel engine and electronic 5-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. Additional features include tilt steering wheel, power steering, four-wheel, power-assisted, anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), heavy-duty twin I-beam independent front suspension, auxiliary transmission cooler, 225 amp OEM alternator and dual 650 cca (cold cranking amperes) batteries.

An upgrade to TRIPS’ computer-aided dispatch system was recently installed in tandem with the new fleet. The hardware and software for the ADEPT system upgrade from 5.7 to 6.2 was installed and tested last week, and the system went live with the new buses yesterday.  The new system includes more user-friendly, color touch screens to provide dispatch information to drivers. TRIPS radio communications system was also upgraded earlier this year to provide better and more reliable coverage. These technology upgrades further assist with streamlining the dispatch process and making the TRIPS service more efficient.

Response to the new buses has been positive from both drivers and riders, according to County officials. Several customers who were the first to ride the new buses Monday remarked at how nice the new buses were, and drivers were pleased with how the vehicles handled, as well as with the ease of use of the touch screens onboard the buses.

This is the Department’s first bus purchase for TRIPS since late 2013, when TRIPS’ MV-1® specialized mobility vehicles were launched. The MV-1®vehicles remain vital to the TRIPS fleet, as they are smaller and able to serve some locations that cannot be served by the TRIPS buses, such as dead end streets, tight-turn cul-de-sacs, and within some condominium and apartment complexes.

The cost for the 19 Phoenix buses was approximately $1.12 million ($59,000 each), and was funded with a combination of 55% Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds, 38% NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) State Dedicated Funds (SDF) and 7% local transportation funds (no County tax dollars).

The vehicles were manufactured by Coach & Equipment Mfg. Corp. of Penn Yan, N.Y., and distributed by Shepard Bros. Inc. of Canandaigua, N.Y. The total cost for the ADEPT system upgrade was $97,980 and was funded with 80% FTA funds and 20% local transportation funds (no County tax dollars).

TRIPS is demand-responsive and provides curbside-to-curbside, shared-ride public paratransit bus service by appointment within Rockland County. TRIPS offers two types of service: Regular TRIPS Service and ADA TRIPS Service.

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