ABC Companies and Van Hool of Belgium partnered with AC Transit in Oakland, Calif., to introduce state-of-the-art transit buses to the North American transit industry.
The newly designed Van Hool 40-foot and 60-foot transit buses will be used by AC Transit to meet its bus rapid transit (BRT) and enhanced bus service needs, which carry in excess of 15,000 to 20,000 people a day in certain corridors.
“With ABC Companies as the exclusive distributor of Van Hool motorcoaches in North America already in the process of developing a Van Hool transit line for the U.S. market, the partnership between ABC Companies/Van Hool and AC Transit was a natural fit,” said Ron Cornell, ABC’s president and CEO. “ABC Companies and Van Hool are proud to partner with AC Transit to bring the first Van Hool transit products to the U.S. market.”
AC Transit worked closely with the manufacturers to engineer certain details that would work in the North American market. “We were looking for vehicles that could efficiently accommodate people on and off the bus quickly to reduce dwell time, and that would additionally be more attractive to the consumer,” said Jaimie Levin, director of marketing and communications for AC Transit.
One of those details was developing a system for the quick replacement of plastic protective window coverings. “We wanted a bus with lots of windows, but given the problem with graffiti and vandalism, they designed a system to make it easy for us to remove the protective window covers,” Levin said. AC Transit bus operators also spent time driving the buses, evaluating the dashboard and control placement.
“We are very impressed with this [vehicle] and we are very excited about it,” said Levin. “We wanted an aesthetic of the bus that would create a new image and attract new riders.”
The new Van Hool transit buses feature low-floor access throughout the vehicle as well as wide, multiple door entries, large expansive windows and LED headsigns. The buses are also equipped with Cummins ISL diesel engines.
AC Transit is buying 131 40-foot buses at a cost of $299,000 each and 57 60-foot buses for $429,000 apiece for use on its BRT system, which offers limited stops and signal prioritization, and enhanced bus service on trunk lines.
Delivery of the main order of Van Hools is slated for June 2003 with bus service beginning in July 2003.