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"Kitsap Transit buying buses, vans"

"The Kitsap Transit Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of 12 vans to boost Access service last week, according to director Dick Hayes.Transit commissioners also approved a request to seek bids for up to 14 additional full-sized buses at the Tuesday, July 10 meeting. The full-sized buses will be second-hand, rehabbed vehicles, Hayes said Wednesday.The vans cost about $36,000 each and have wheelchair ramps and other accommodations for the disabled. They are available through a cooperative purchasing agreement operated by the state of Oregon, and Kitsap Transit (KT) must submit its bid by mid-August, Hayes said.Five of the vans will replace 6-year-old Access vehicles that the shop told me are pretty worn out, Hayes said. The other seven will be used to expand service.The 14 full-sized buses will be used both to increase routed service and to cycle some older worker-driver buses out of use. Although KT hasn't formally begun to take bids, the buses are expected to cost up to $130,000.But they aren't new, Hayes said. They are used vehicles that have been refurbished, including interior, body and engine work as needed. The refurbished buses are expected to last eight years, but we have a number of them that are over eight and are doing fine, Hayes said.If we're going to respond to higher rush hour loads, we've got to have new buses, Hayes said. And we anticipate increased rush hour traffic this year. A ridership boost is expected after voters approved KT's request for a three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax increase in May. The $7.8 million a year officials expect the higher sales tax to raise allows the agency to decrease fares, in addition to providing for vehicle purchases. The fare decrease, in turn, will lead to increased ridership, Hayes predicted.Transit will accept bids on the full-sized buses this month, and could have a purchase proposal ready for the transit board by next month.Transit officials also are looking into two other types of buses which could boost fuel efficiency and save the agency money in the long run. Hayes said he hopes to get federal grant funds to purchase as many as a dozen 27-feet-long medium-sized buses. KT already has some of these minibuses, which carry 25 passengers and cost about $100,000 each. An expanded fleet, which could include 29-passenger versions, would allow for expanded use on rural routed and commuter service.Being smaller than full-sized buses, the 27-footers burn less fuel. But the king of transit fuel efficiency is the hybrid full-size bus, which incorporates both a gasoline and electric motor.KT hopes to purchase as many as 12 of the hybrids at about $300,000 apiece. Such vehicles are in high demand - Hayes estimated 18 months would pass between formally ordering the buses and delivery.New York is running a bunch of them right now, and they're really popular, Hayes said. The whole (Puget Sound) region is interested in them. "

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