Management & Operations

Downsizing Revealed in Top 100

Posted on July 1, 2002 by Janna Starcic, assistant editor

Decreasing fleet numbers appear to be a growing trend among METRO’s annual Top 100 Transit Bus Fleets. Overall, fleet numbers show a decrease of 665 buses from last year for a total of 59,374 vehicles. The past two years have shown a steady rise in the number of agencies (46%) downsizing their fleets, a figure that should shrink once the economy bounces back. Once again MTA New York City Transit claimed the No. 1 spot in the Top 100. With 4,600 buses, New York easily surpasses its closest competitor, No. 2 New Jersey Transit Corp., by 1,658 buses. After a consistently steady rise in the rankings over the past years, RTD Denver managed to break into the Top 10, garnering a spot at No. 9 by adding 66 vehicles to its fleet of 1,309 buses. Listings in the Top 10 stronghold remain virtually unchanged. Despite Denver’s breakthrough, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and New York City Department of Transportation hung on by tying for the No. 10 spot with 1,300 buses apiece. A record number of ties revealed themselves in this year’s listing — six total, including a three-way tie for No. 70. Another standout in the rankings is RTC of Clark County/Citizens Area Transit of Las Vegas, which made the highest jump (20 places) for a position at No. 44. RTC was also one of the few agencies that sizably increased its fleets (by 91 buses) this year. Bus-buying projections are also down, with agencies shortening their shopping lists by 456 buses, a 7.5% decrease from 2001. In addition, transit agencies plan to rehab 1,522 buses, down 11% from the previous year. Forty-eight of the fleets listed are 100% compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a 7% increase. Overall, 48,927 buses are wheelchair accessible, making up 82% of the combined North American bus fleet total. Low-floor buses account for 22% of the total, numbering 12,830 buses. Transit fleet composition remains stable, with buses longer than 35 feet (47,442) comprising the usual majority at 80%. Buses under 35 feet (8,207) dropped slightly to 13.8% of the fleet mix. The average fleet size for the Top 100 is 594 buses, landing closest to No. 32 ranked Detroit Department of Transportation which has 591 buses. Joining the list this year are C-Tran of Vancouver, Wash., (No. 94) and Lane Transit District of Eugene, Ore., with 160 and 123 buses respectively. Lane Transit’s fleet count also marks the cutoff number for our survey, making it No. 100 on the list. More than half of the participants (54%) that responded to our survey have alternative-fuel vehicles within their fleets. Compressed natural gas (CNG) is the fuel of choice for 77% of alternative-fueled fleets. Hybrid electric technology is the second-highest fuel of choice, used by 14 fleets. At nine total, fleets using liquified natural gas, bio-diesel and propane as fuel alternatives comprised the smallest number of fleets. The fleet with the largest number of alternative-fuel vehicles (1,862) is the Los Angeles County MTA, with 79% of its fleet dedicated to CNG. To see the complete survey, click here.

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