Four new Bend Area Transit (BAT) buses, specifically designed to serve passengers on fixed routes started service last month. The Eldorado Elite buses seat 25 and are equipped with ADA equipment, bike racks and fare boxes. They feature digital destination signage, perimeter seating in the front, and more room for standees.
The Bend City Council and staff said they spent a year researching the most financially and environmentally efficient fleet. The new buses are rated to last seven years and cost $122,000 each, compared to $450,000 for a low-floor, 12-year diesel-electric hybrid transit bus.
The new buses get twice the miles per gallon of the current buses, significantly lowering operating cost for a system that travels 20,000 miles a month. By combining ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel with new diesel engine emission controls, the new fleet will have almost no particulate emissions compared to the older gas powered buses they are replacing.
For added safety, a merge signal light is included on the back of the buses. When that signal is flashing, drivers must allow the buses to merge into traffic or face a possible traffic citation.
The fleet also features a new look. ODOT has partnered with the City to provide safety messages on six BAT buses, and the $20,000 a year contract adds another revenue source to help operate the transit system.
The new buses were purchased with grant funding from the Federal Transit
Administration which covered 83 percent of the cost. Money was included in the transit budget to cover the remaining 17 percent.