Rockford Mass Transit awards purchase of buses

The Rockford Mass Transit District (RMTD) has announced that the contract to purchase 20 new fixed route vehicles has officially been awarded to North American Bus Industries, Inc. (NABI), headquartered in Anniston, Ala. The District will purchase 20 35-foot, low-floor, diesel vehicles for a price of $313,982 each, or a total cost of $6,279,649.

Nineteen of the 20 buses the District is purchasing are replacement vehicles. Four of the new buses will replace the four vehicles that have been in service since 1991, and 15 buses will replace the vehicles that have been in service since 1995. The District is purchasing one additional bus, bringing the fleet size to 40 fixed route vehicles. All 40 vehicles are wheelchair accessible.

RMTD is purchasing these vehicles with federal, state and local money. The federal government will provide $5,149,304.80 toward the cost of the vehicles, while the state of Illinois will contribute $1,004,742.40. The balance, $125,592.80, will come from the District’s local capital funds.

The new buses from NABI will feature an automatic voice annunciation system, a five-camera digital recording system, and will have a much stricter emissions standard, making them environmentally friendly. The automatic voice annunciation system is used to announce streets, intersections and major transfer points along the RMTD routes in accordance with ADA requirements. This is necessary for passengers with visual impairments. This responsibility lies with the RMTD operators, who announce streets and intersections over a microphone on the vehicles. The new buses will eliminate the need for driver involvement in this process. The digital recording system will record activities on the vehicles and will provide a safer environment for both passengers and drivers.

The NABI vehicles will also be environmentally friendly, as they will be built under the much stricter 2007 emissions standards, utilizing a 2007 certified Cummins ISL 280 engine outfitted with a diesel particulate filter. The low-floor feature on these vehicles makes boarding and alighting easier and quicker for passengers in wheelchairs and other motorized vehicles, and are easier to maintain.

NABI will begin production of these vehicles in January 2007 and, barring any unforeseen interruptions, the buses are anticipated to arrive in Rockford in late spring, 2007.

According to RMTD Executive Director Richard W. McVinnie, “it is always exciting to accept delivery of new vehicles for the City of Rockford. We pride ourselves on the condition and maintenance of our fleet and have done an excellent job of keeping buses that are over 20 years old in service. However, the time has definitely come to upgrade our fleet, and we believe the vehicles we are purchasing from NABI will offer the state-of-the-art features we need to serve our passengers well for many years to come,” McVinnie said.

The District announced its intention to purchase new vehicles earlier this year when it put out the Invitation for Bid (IFB). Four companies—Gillig Corporation, El Dorado, New Flyer and NABI—presented bids for consideration. The bid was awarded to NABI at the Aug. 31 Board teleconference meeting.

RMTD provides more than 1.4 million rides each year. The District offers 18 hours of service, Monday-Friday; 13 hours of service Saturdays; and eight hours Sundays. Rockford Mass Transit also provides service to Loves Park and Machesney Park.

From the Oct. 25-31, 2006, issue

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