BC Transit will be replacing the Regional District of Nanaimo’s transit buses with gas-powered vehicles. (File photo)

Transit BC to replace Regional District of Nanaimo’s handyDart bus fleet

New vehicles will be gas-powered, with better loading and unloading capabilities

BC Transit plans to replace the Regional District of Nanaimo’s handyDart fleet with gas-powered vehicles.

Currently, the buses the RDN leases from BC Transit are five-to-seven years old and run on diesel. The RDN fleet consists of 15 Chevrolet ARBOC light-duty buses. BC Transit plans to replace them with gas-powered buses manufactured by Blue Bird.

BC Transit looked at the possibility of replacing the vehicles with compressed natural gas or green light duty buses but they are not an option at this time.

“Electric, hybrid gasoline or hybrid diesel propulsion is not available for light duty handy Dart buses,” according to Daniel Pearce, RDN’s general manager of transportaion and emergency services. “Diesel engines are available, however they were not chosen due to the high maintenance costs.”

The RDN does not decide which buses to purchase. That is BC Transit’s mandate as they own the buses. However, BC Transit collaborated with operators across the province on the type of buses that they need to make their work safer and efficient.

READ MORE: BC Transit finds28 used fareboxes online, saves $300,000

The new buses, expected to arrive in May and June this year, will feature better loading and unloading capabilities of passengers with mobility aids. The current low-floor buses use a ramp and requires pushing passengers up and down. The new buses will have a rear side lift that allows passengers on wheelchairs to access the bus with greater ease. It is also going to be safer and more convenient for the bus operators.

The RDN leases the transit buses for seven years at cost of $18,500 per bus annually. The cost is shared at a rate of 46.69 per cent for BC Transit and 53.31 per cent for the RDN.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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