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City purchases bigger, greener transit buses

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- City officials got a look at a new model of transit bus Friday that will be hitting the streets next year, replacing some of the older, less environmentally friendly buses currently in the fleet.

Lee Burner, the city of Albany's Transit director, said Friday that the city has ordered a total of six of Daimler's Orion VII clean-diesel transit buses that will start being delivered sometime during the spring of 2011.

The buses will cost a total of $2 million, which is being paid for using federal stimulus dollars, Burner said.

"These buses are almost literally just coming off the line," he said. "They are the latest generation of transit buses available. They burn cleaner, run more efficient and are designed to be more comfortable than those we have now."

The buses will run on conventional diesel but will be given an additive that burns cleaner and lasts for 1,000 miles, Assistant City Manager James Taylor said.

According to a statement from Daimler, the buses contain new technology that scrubs the exhaust emitted from the buses, reducing nitrogen oxide emissions to almost zero and exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency's 2010 emissions standards.

The buses have been tested during the research and development process to be effective past 500,000 miles, the report states.

Taylor said the city is expecting to receive four buses in the first half of 2011, with the other two buses arriving at some point thereafter.

Burner said Transit is planning to use the new, larger buses to help with traffic into the East Albany Wal-Mart store, a move that may ease foot traffic in that portion of the city.

The buses purchased by the city are one of three new Orion-model buses being manufactured this year. The other two models -- a hybrid diesel/electric model and one that runs off Compressed Natural Gas -- were either too expensive or unfeasible given the lack of natural gas pumps.

The new buses feature roof-mounted air conditioning systems, which Daimler says is an improvement on earlier systems, and uses an airbag system that allows the bus to "kneel" to curbs to reduce the distance people have to step up from the street or sidewalk, making them more accessible.