January 28, 2011

Illinois transit rolls out 50 biodiesel buses

As ridership continues to climb, Granite City, Ill.-based Madison County Transit (MCT) is rolling out new, clean-burning, heavy-duty biodiesel buses to operate bus routes on its fixed-route system.

The 50 new vehicles, with enhanced safety features, automatic vehicle enunciators, a bus rapid transit (BRT)-style streamlined design and modern paint scheme, are the first of their kind in the region and will partially replace MCT’s aging, heavy-duty fixed-route fleet.

Produced by the Gillig Corp., the buses are funded through a series of federal grants, including American Reinvestment and Recovery Act Stimulus funds, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) formula dollars and Federal Discretionary funds. Less than 8 percent of the procurement will be funded with local dollars. The new Gillig buses were 100 percent assembled in the U.S.

The heavy-duty vehicles in MCT’s current fixed-route fleet are 30- and 40-foot buses, which were purchased new in 1997. All of these vehicles have surpassed their useful life expectancy as defined by both the FTA and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).

The new buses cost approximately $400,000 each and have a mandated useful life of 12 years. MCT acquired these vehicles in a timely manner, thanks to the full cooperation and assistance of the Bi-State Development Agency, DBA Metro, by “piggy-backing” on an existing bus procurement and entering into an agreement that benefitted both agencies. The new buses will feature the same safety and accessibility elements as the current vehicles, such as a wheelchair ramp, “kneeling” ability and wheelchair securements.

The new Gillig vehicles feature automated voice annunciation with interior display; enhanced on-board video surveillance systems; BRT front body design; 2010 clean diesel technology utilizing biodiesel fuel; an enhanced wheelchair restraint system; LED lighting; and fuel-fired heaters to warm bus engines and heat bus interiors, for reduced fuel consumption.

With approximately 2.3 million boardings annually and local fuel prices passing the $3.00 mark, there is growing demand for transit service in Madison County.

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