On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation
(LADOT) celebrated the arrival of the first of 95 new Motor Coach Industries
(MCI) Commuter Coaches, powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), with a ceremony outside of the Disney Concert Hall.
The new buses will be used on LADOT's "Commuter Express" service and replace 95 older, diesel powered buses. The nearly $67 million purchase also makes LADOT's Commuter Express fleet 100% CNG driven, joining its 200 "DASH" shuttle buses, which are already 100% alternatively propelled.
"Angelenos have made it clear that they want transportation choices," said Los Angeles Councilmember and Chair of the city's transportation committee, Bill Rosendahl, who was joined at the ceremony by fellow councilmember Jan Perry and officials from both LADOT and MCI. "They don't want to have to jump in a car for every trip they make. These new clean, green, comfortable buses are delivering an attractive alternative to the automobile."
The new buses, which also feature three bike racks for a true multimodal ride, are the only over-the-road style commuter coaches available that meet requirements set by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the California Air Resource Board and the South Coast Air Quality Management District for public transit operators.
"These new Commuter Express buses will give customers a convenient and comfortable alternative to driving," said LADOT GM Jaime de la Vega. "They also are part of the City of Los Angeles' on-going commitment to greening our transportation system."
In addition to running cleaner, the buses also have an increased seating capacity, holding up to 49 passengers compared with 43 to 45 on the old vehicles. Each bus also features reclining cushioned seats, individual reading lights and air flow control for improved passenger comfort.
LADOT secured $48,451,041 in FTA grant funding, for 79 of the 95 buses, or approximately 72% of the total cost of $66,975,000. Sixteen of the buses paid for using ARRA funding.
The new buses will be introduced into service by LADOT starting Dec. 5, 2011.