The Capital District Transportation Authority is buying two articulated buses, vehicles that can carry nearly twice as many people as a conventional bus.
Their purchase is another strategy for dealing with record ridership levels, as CDTA expects to carry more than 17 million passengers this fiscal year.
“You get double the capacity with just one driver,” said CDTA CEO Carm Basile, as each bus will be able to carry close to 100 people.
Articulated buses have two chassis linked together with a flexible joint.
The authority board voted Wednesday at a meeting in Rensselaer to buy two of the buses, at a total cost of nearly $1.7 million, including training, spare parts and diagnostic equipment. Federal funds will pay for the purchases.
“The addition of articulated buses will help to relieve overcrowding we are seeing on many routes due to increased ridership,” CDTA board Chairman David M. Stackrow said.
Delivery of the buses, being purchased from New Flyer of America of Winnepeg, Canada, won’t be until November 2015, CDTA officials said. CDTA is signing a five-year contract with New Flyer which could cover more purchases in the future.
This is the first time CDTA has purchased articulated buses since the early 1980s. CDTA wasn’t satisfied with those buses, and their manufacturer later went out of business.
Since then, Basile said the technology has changed, and transit authorities that use them seem more satisfied. Articulated buses in use in Toronto and Rochester have gotten good reviews, according to CDTA staff research.
Basile said the two buses will be tried on different routes around the system, and he expects CDTA will move ahead to purchase more in the future.
Officials said the initial purchases will allow CDTA to test their operation, assess maintenance needs and measure their impact on CDTA facilities. A regular purchasing cycle, which can include as many as 18 additional vehicles, will commence once all testing is completed, if the results are satisfactory, CDTA officials said Thursday.
One place where they’re likely to see use is on the busy BusPlus rapid transit line along Central Avenue between Albany and Schenectady, which has seen ridership steady grow since the service was launched in 2011.