An influx of new buses will make Halifax Transit more accessible and more environmentally friendly—at a cost of nearly $17 million to the municipality.
On Tuesday, HRM Regional Council awarded Nova Bus Ltd a contract to supply up to 100 new Halifax Transit buses to the municipality over the next five years.
Halifax will pay $16,900,996 to the Volvo-owned company to deliver 60 buses in the next three years, with the option for two, one-year renewals for 40 additional vehicles.
The new commitment comes after the municipality’s three-year contract with New Flyer concluded last May with a final delivery of nine buses to Halifax Transit. Nova Bus and New Flyer were the only bidders on the tender for this new contract.
The first 30 new buses will arrive over the next 12 months, allowing the city to replace an equal amount of aging vehicles currently on the road. Eleven of Halifax Transit’s buses have been driving on Halifax streets since before amalgamation in 1996.
Council was told the new Nova Bus buses will be more fuel efficient and reduce repair costs. City staff said Tuesday that, given the maintenance needed on some vehicles, it would be more expensive to keep the older buses than buy new ones.
The new fleet will also be more environmentally-friendly. Many of the vehicles flagged for replacement have pre-emission control engines that are lacking modern, compulsory exhaust treatment systems (and as a result, staff says, produce 96 percent more NOX emissions).
All of the new buses will also be low-floor (making virtually all of Halifax Transit’s fleet accessible) and equipped with bike racks.
While we’re all waiting for the new buses, Halifax Transit will start rolling out new technology upgrades next week, replacing the much-maligned GoTimes system with GPS tracking.
Starting Monday, May 16, riders will be able to phone the new Departures Line (902-480-8000) for real-time scheduling information.
The GPS-based tracking system is currently only on 75 percent of Halifax transit’s fleet, but is set to be fully operational this summer.
It’s all part of the $43 million in transit technology upgrades the municipality is spending, which will also replace the approximately 2,500 bus stop signs throughout the HRM to better align with the new tracking and the anticipated stop announcement system coming later this year.