Thursday, June 5, 2014

More and More New Buses (Update)

TriMet has released more information about the new buses coming in the next two years. This has disproved some of my assumptions in my previous post, but has validated the gist of it. Let me break it down for you.

You can read my prior post here. Note the updated information in red. Also, you can read TriMet's news release here. This is where I am sourcing most of my information.

Today, buses 3201 and 3204 began running on Line 70. These were the first two of sixty buses in the 3200-series that TriMet is currently receiving. According to the news release, and in line with prior precedent, three to five new buses will arrive from the Gillig factory each week. It will take about two weeks to prep the bus, which includes registration and DMV paperwork, installation of the CAD/AVL system at Powell Garage, and installation of the fare box at Center Garage. This process will continue throughout the summer.

The 3200s will be delivered to Center Garage (replacing the 1400s) and Merlo Garage (replacing the 1700s). Sixty new buses will be replacing about 48 old buses, meaning that there will be more buses when the 3200s are done being deployed.

The 3200s are almost identical to the 3100s. The primary difference is the reconfigured driver controls. For once, and I'm still having a hard time believing it myself, TriMet actually listened to drivers complain about not being able to reach many of the controls, primarily the CAD/AVL screen and the kneel switch. The kneel switch has been moved from next to the CAD screen to the driver's left by the door button. The CAD screen has been brought closer to the driver so they don't have to reach as far. Also, the steering wheel has been made smaller, more like the wheel found on the 2900-series New Flyer buses. For passengers, a new "porch light" is being installed by the rear door so riders can see better when they disembark.

The 3300s are in fact 40-foot buses, not 30-foot as I assumed. These 30 buses will be deployed beginning in the Fall. The reason they are a different fleet is because they are a different order from a different fiscal year (the 3200s are on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, while the 3300s are in the FY15 budget). These buses will either replace half of the 2100-series high-floor buses or a few of those plus all 22 of the 2000-series, the first series of low-floors TriMet purchased. In early 2015, eight more of this series of buses will go into service, bringing the total to 38 (and thereby assuring that my OCD dreams will be realized: there will be a bus 3333).

There will also be four more hybrid buses arriving in 2015. These will likely be in this same series.

And here are our 30-foot buses. Twenty-two new shorty buses will go into service to replace the 1600s running out of Center (on lines 34, 39, 51 and 152) and Powell (on lines 80 and 81), and the 1900s running out of Merlo (on lines 18, 50, 59, 63, 83, and a couple of other random lines), coincidentally totaling 22. It will be interesting to see where they distribute these buses, as all three garages run lines that require their shortened length.

The reason that the news release separated the eight 40-foot buses coming next year from the 3300s listed is because these eight, the four hybrids, and the 22 3400-series shorty buses are part of the new contract with Gillig. According to this news release from last September, TriMet signed a contract with Gillig for bus deliveries every year from 2015-2019, separate from the contract that is being completed this year with the 3300s. This goes way beyond just eliminating all the old 20+ year old buses riders complain about. In 2016, another 70 buses will show up, and 60 more a year later. This will help TriMet's fleet become comparably aged in respect to similar agencies.

But let me show you what that looks like.

Figure 1 shows each year through 2019 and how many buses are being deployed each year. It also shows which buses these will be replacing (assuming TriMet doesn't do like they are doing this year and bringing in more buses than they are retiring).

   Figure 1
   TriMet Bus Purchases by Year

   40-foot Buses (incudes Hybrids)
   Year   # Buses   Buses Replaced
   2015   42        All 2000s, 20 2100s
   2016   70        45 2100s, 25 22-2300s
   2017   60        60 22-2300s
   2018   40        33 22-2300s, 7 2500s
   2019   40        40 2500s
   30-foot Buses
   Year   # Buses   Buses Replaced
   2015   22        All 1600s, All 1900s
   2016   18        N/A

As you can see, by 2019 TriMet's fleet will look significantly newer. 120 of these buses, purchased in 2016 and 2017, have an option clause to make them Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueled instead of the normal diesel bus. I do not believe TriMet will actually activate this clause, given that past experience with getting this fuel to the buses has not been that good. Fourteen of these listed, however, will be hybrid buses, and should include the "super-hybrids" TriMet ordered last year that were going to take a few years to build.

So let's jump ahead to 2019. Assuming the information I provided in Figure 1 is accurate, what will the fleet actually look like?

   Figure 2
   TriMet Fixed Route Bus Fleet, FY2019

   40-foot Buses (includes Hybrids)
   Series  No. of Buses
   2500    12
   2600    55
   2700    25
   2800    39
   2900    40
   3000    55
   3100    70
   3200    60
   3300    42
   3500    70
   3700    60
   3800    40
   3900    40
   Total  608

   30-foot Buses
   Series  No. of Buses
   3400    22
   3600    18
   Total   40

   Grand Total = 648

If you go back to earlier in this post, you see that this year, there will be 12 more new buses than buses getting retired. Therefore, we can assume that those 12 2500s will be retired in 2019 also, making the grand total 636, and causing every bus in the system to have the new blue, yellow and white color scheme.

Talk about night and day, right? This is late in coming, but at least it's coming.


  1. Interesting post but I am curious as to how you determined that 'Trimet listened to its drivers this time'.
    Where did you get that information? From a driver or are you just assuming that?
    Your not a driver so you wouldn't know first hand if that were true would you.

  2. Well they had to listen to someone, didn't they? Who else was complaining? They do have ears, they're bound to hear something occasionally.

  3. Someone posted a video of a 3200 bus at the yard. It showed the new configuration. This was weeks ago.

  4. Is that were you came to that decision? From that video? I'll go watch it again


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