Supes app­rove purchase of 60-foot Muni buses

San Francisco’s transportation agency received an early Christmas gift as the agency continues to shop for new Muni buses.

The San Francisco Board Supervisors unanimously approved the Municipal Transportation Agency’s purchase of 61 60-foot low-floor hybrid electric-biodiesel buses at Tuesday’s board meeting.

The six-year $68 million contract with New Flyer America Inc., the same maker of Muni’s 40-foot hybrid buses that arrived in the City last year, also includes options to purchase an additional 200 40-foot and 163 60-foot buses.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said that replacing the old Muni vehicles will add to the transit agency’s efforts to improve transit reliability:

“This purchase is an all-encompassing investment by the SFMTA that will help shorten trips while increasing service reliability.”

The 60-foot buses would service Muni routes like the 38-Geary, its limited and express service, which carry an average of 53,000 riders on weekdays, according to the transit agency.

A report from the Budget Legislative Analyst said that 279 buses out of the total 447 buses that the transit agency has, will reach the end of their lifetime usefulness either by this year or next year. That is about 62 percent of Muni’s current fleet of buses.

All of Muni’s 60-foot Neoplan buses are in that category of reaching their lifetime usefulness by 2015, the report said.

The hybrid electric-biodiesel buses will also be environmentally friendly said Supervisor Malia Cohen in a statement, who sponsored the legislation:

“The purchase of these hybrid buses will decrease fuel consumption of buses and keep San Francisco residents healthier by reducing excessive emissions.”

Federal grants, state and local funds will pay for the 61 buses. Funds for the additional vehicles has not been determined. If the transit agency is able to purchase all of the additional vehicles, it could have a total of 536 buses, which is increase of 89 more vehicles than the previous total of its current fleet of 447.

The purchase is part of the transit agency’s Transit Fleet Management Fleet, which states that the SFMTA plans to replace all of its rubber fleet by 2020.