With fuel prices heading higher and no ceiling in sight, the Orange County (Calif.) Transportation Authority (OCTA) received approval from its board of directors Monday to accelerate its bus procurement program.
OCTA CEO Art Leahy said the agency will lock in orders ahead of schedule for nearly 250 CNG buses. The buses will be delivered in waves beginning next year.
If the agency had waited to order the buses, it could have faced delays in delivery. “We are well positioned for our bus buys even if fuel prices cause a rapid rise in ridership and there’s a rush in the industry to buy buses,” Leahy said. “Should this occur, the delivery times will greatly extend and properties could have a hard time getting equipment quickly.”
The additional buses will be used to expand the fleet should fuel prices continue to climb and more people leave their cars at home and use public transportation.
If fuel prices should stabilize and ridership flatten out, Leahy said the new CNG buses will still be a welcome addition to the fleet. “We will simply retire the older buses,” he said. “There’s no risk. The worst-case scenario is that we retire our diesel buses earlier.”