Management & Operations

Opus tabbed as key to Austin plans

Posted on April 1, 2005

To meet the Austin, Texas, area’s current and future transportation needs, Capital Metro recently added 30 new Optima Opus 34 buses to its fleet, raising the total number of large buses to more than 400. Capital Metro expects the addition of the Optima buses, already popular with operators and customers, to help the agency keep its best foot forward as it implements its long-range transit plan that nearly doubles bus service over the next 20 years. “Capital Metro has taken significant steps to find answers to the mobility needs of our service area,” said Fred Gilliam, president and CEO. “The Optima buses will be a visible reminder of that commitment and will ensure that we continue our tradition of being a leader in our industry.” “This opportunity with Austin demonstrates our lasting relationship and Optima’s commitment to quality, flexibility and superior customer service,” said Michael Monteferrante, Optima’s CEO. “We are proud and honored to have partnered with Austin and be a part of their dynamic expansion plans.” Following an extensive review by operators, mechanics and other Capital Metro representatives, the Opus 34 buses were selected as the newest additions to the fleet. After an initial assessment of the buses, Capital Metro provided specific feedback to Valley Center, Kan.–based Optima, which took steps to address each area of improvement and requested customizations. Their collaboration resulted in buses with many attractive features and benefits — sure to be a welcomed addition to the city fleet. Boasting the best fuel mileage of all Capital Metro buses, these clean-diesel vehicles are helping to minimize the impact of transportation on the air quality in central Texas, a region that has maintained its attainment status by taking steps to reduce emissions. In addition, these 35-foot buses help Capital Metro ensure public transit is available to a larger group of people. The low-floor configuration of the Opus 34 makes the bus more accessible to passengers, especially those with special mobility needs. Operators are reportedly impressed with the acceleration and braking capabilities of the Opus 34, which provides more power and smoother shifting compared to other buses, and a more enjoyable ride overall. Ease of maintenance has also been cited as a benefit of the Opus 34. With a solid frame and modular side panels that will allow for easy replacement in the event of a side impact, Capital Metro expects to save money on maintenance costs with the addition of the new vehicles. “We found that Optima’s Opus 34 is easy to maintain and drive,” said Dwight Ferrell, Capital Metro’s executive vice president and chief operations officer. “Our operators and maintenance team have thoroughly reviewed the Opus 34 and welcome this addition to our fleet.” Perhaps most notable to Capital Metro is the ease of use and the “wow factor” that the sleek design elicits from bus operators. The Opus 34 has an adjustable dash, accessible controls and a large front windshield, which enhances operator visibility, especially at night. Another aesthetic feature of the buses is the design of the windshield, which forms the shape of a smile along the bottom molding. As a result, these buses are sometimes referred to as the “happy bus” and have become popular across the nation. “With some buses it can be difficult to see my stop approaching,” said Shannon Jordy, a long-time Capital Metro customer. “I like these new buses because I can see more of the road ahead through the large windshield.” The Opus 34 buses are part of Capital Metro’s fixed-route fleet, and the bus dimensions are expected to make it easy to navigate future rail stations in the All Systems Go plan, which includes expanded local and express bus service, new rapid bus service and a 32-mile urban commuter rail starter line along Capital Metro’s existing freight tracks.

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