Using public transportation every day is a way of life for people in big cities, and the Chicago Transit Authority is working to make residents of the city more comfortable when they ride. It is currently inspecting and testing a new prototype that is intended to be used for a fleet of 300 new buses that will be put into use starting in April through 2015.
The new low-emission 40-foot long buses will be manufactured by Nova Bus, which is a subsidiary of Volvo. They will feature LED lighting, 10 security cameras, and a fortified safety barrier that will be used to protect bus drivers from riders who act violently.
Of course, rider safety will also be paramount. Every year, some 17,000 kids have to be taken to the hospital after suffering injuries while on a school bus. While certainly not every rider will be heading to school, the new buses and old ones that are going to be improved and upgraded will help make sure riders are safe should an accident occur.
“By upgrading a fleet of buses and rail cars, we are continuing to invest in providing customers with a smooth, reliable and comfortable commute and ensuring our City has world-class transit system for the 21st century,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This milestone shows the significant progress the CTA is making to provide quality service to customers and increase economic opportunity in Chicago by creating good-paying, local jobs that support families.”
The initial order of 300 new buses will cost about $148 million, said CTA spokesman Brian Steele. The CTA also has the option of purchasing another 150 buses under the contract signed with Nova Bus.
New seats are a major component of the new bus designs. They will be lighter than their older counterparts to help reduce fuel costs and are produced by 120-year-old company Freedman Seating, which is based in Humboldt Park. The partnership between the company and the CTA will result in the addition of 100 local jobs.
The newest additions to the CTA’s 1,800-vehicle fleet will replace buses that were purchased between 2000 and 2002. In 2009, the fleet was upgraded with 58 new hybrid buses that were bought with stimulus funds.