A bus affectionately known as Bertha has become the star of Beach Cities Transit’s (BCT) fleet in Redondo Beach, Calif.
The 40-foot CNG bus — ElDorado National’s new Axess model — complements the four other ElDorado buses (30 and 32 footers) operated by the transit system, a department of the City of Redondo Beach.
Terisa Price, BCT’s transit manager, said Bertha is used for high-capacity runs, including the morning and afternoon tripper service for local schools. She said the vehicle’s performance characteristics are excellent, with a smooth and quiet ride and great aesthetic value.
“She is such an outstanding piece of equipment that when she goes down the road, everybody stops and notices,” Price said. “She is the star of our fleet.”
Price said the addition of the “Bertha” sticker on the front of the bus has added to the notoriety. “After we put Bertha’s name on her, students at the school started to announce her arrival,” she said. “When they see her coming, they say, ‘Here comes Bertha.’”
Built as an Altoona test vehicle, Bertha had 15,000 miles on her when she was purchased by BCT. “Because she is technically ‘used,’ the cost savings was tremendous,” Price said. “She was an offer we couldn’t refuse.”
To generate more local interest in the transit system, Price has commissioned the manufacture of 1,000 “cuddle buses” with Bertha’s likeness. These Beanie Baby-type buses will be sold for $8 each at the transit center at a local shopping mall. Price said she would be interested in procuring more 40-foot buses but currently lacks the demand for more capacity.
BCT operates two fixed routes using five buses. One route, No.102, operates between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on 20- to 45-minute headways. The other route, No.104, operated between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on 70-minute headways.
Operation of the buses is performed by Laidlaw Transit Services. Price, who has spent the past four years at BCT after transit-related stints in nearby Manhattan Beach and Santa Monica, said the contractor is in the second year of a five-year contract but has been the contract service provider for more than 15 years.