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New Metrobuses circulating St. John's area are smaller and wheelchair-accessible

The three new Vicinity buses joining the Metrobus fleet are 10 feet smaller than the other buses and offer a wheelchair-accessible, quieter and more environmentally friendly ride.
The three new Vicinity buses joining the Metrobus fleet are 10 feet smaller than the other buses and offer a wheelchair-accessible, quieter and more environmentally friendly ride. - Joe Gibbons

New buses will offer a more fuel-efficient, quiet and wheelchair-accessible ride for passengers in St. John’s.

Judy Powell, general manager of Metrobus, said the buses will replace older buses set to be retired this month.

“It’s a great opportunity to introduce three smaller, more fuel-efficient buses into the fleet that we could use on some of our less busy routes,” Powell said.

The three new Vicinity buses are 30 feet long, rather than the usual 40-feet of the buses currently used.

Metrobus expects a 30 per cent saving in fuel consumption as a result of the smaller size.

There hasn’t been a good option for a smaller bus on the market, Powell said.

“We’ve been asked over the years why we don’t use smaller buses on some of the less busy routes, and there hasn’t been a good product available.”

Along with being more environmentally friendly, the buses are wheelchair-accessible. They provide a low-floor design and a boarding ramp, and can be lowered to curb level.

All buses purchased by Metrobus since 2010 have been wheelchair-accessible, and as older models are retired, Metrobus will offer more wheelchair-accessible buses, Powell said.

“As we get more and more wheelchair-accessible buses we’ll be increasing the number of routes we can offer with that service as well.”

There are currently five Metrobus routes that are served by wheelchair-accessible buses.

“We’ve identified six routes that we’d be able to use these buses on,” Powell said.

The new buses, with seating for 25, will also offer a quieter ride due to their “close and seal” door design that reduces noise. The doors also reduce air drafts, preserving heat in the winter and cool air in the summer.

“We’re going to evaluate them on the road. The feedback we hear in the industry is positive. We’re looking forward to getting them on the road,” Powell said.

Vicinity buses are sold and supplied by Grande West Transportation in British Columbia. They are set to be in service by the end of March.

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