Just as I'm writing this, on Tuesday afternoon, Halifax council is set to approve the early funding for the purchase of 19 more buses, at an anticipated cost of $8.62 million.
The "early funding" approval is necessary because the process of tendering, building, shipping and acquiring buses takes longer than a single budget year. Council's approval allows staff to put out a tender for acquisition over the next three years, but it's anticipated that the per-bus price will be low enough to acquire 19 next fiscal year, and hit the road around January, 2014.
This continues a significant expansion of the Metro Transit fleet. In the coming months, 20 more 60-foot articulated buses will arrive in town, completing a three-year purchase of 45 articulated buses. Most of those buses—30 of them—represent an increase in the total number of buses on the road, while the remaining 15 replace older 40-foot buses. These 60-foot buses are being used on highly travelled routes like the #1, #52, #20 and #10.
The 19 buses OKed for purchase Tuesday, however, will all be "regular" 40-foot buses. Council will next year approve a detailed plan for the buses, but the conceptional plan is that four of them will be used for new feeder routes to the Woodside ferry terminal, where a new ferry boat is also scheduled to start running in 2014. Another five of the new buses will allow added service on existing bus routes, while the remaining 10 new buses will replace older buses.
In short, there's a bit of a slow-down in the rate of expansion of the fleet, but the city is still aggressively investing in transit.
While we're discussing transit, we should note that the new Bridge Terminal will open Monday.
Also, city staff have provided me with the most recent bus rosters, listing all the buses now in the fleet, when they were purchased, how many passengers they hold and other information.
This is the list of all the buses housed at the Ragged Lake Transit Garage. And this is the list of all the buses at the Burnside Garage. The lists do not include the 20 60-foot buses that have not yet arrived, or the 40-foot buses approved today.