By Shannon Quesnel
PENTICTON - The city has become a testing ground for never-before seen transit buses.
The two 27.5 foot Vicinity buses seen circling around Penticton's most used transit routes were acquired for efficiency and lower costs. They are also brand-new machines built from the ground up and their performance will be monitored closely.
Berry and Smith Trucking are contracted by the city to provide transit services in the community. President Matt Berry said when B.C. Transit was looking for new smaller people-movers their needs weren't met by what was on the market. A manufacturer stepped up, designed and built these new machines which can seat 23, are easier to maintain, cost less to operate, fuel bills are 30% lesser, and are overall cheaper to buy. A Vicinity's bill is about $250,000 which was picked up by B.C. Transit.
It's too early to say if the city's newest buses can turn on a dime but drivers are going to find out soon enough. Because of their improved maneuverability and being six inches narrower bus drivers might alter how they drop off and pick up passengers in the future but they'll stick to their assigned routes for now.
Like the larger buses the new rigs can accommodate passengers with wheelchairs and can lower its floor to make it easier to access. The drivers also benefit thanks to large windshields offering increased visibility.
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