Thursday, July 1, 2010

BC Transit customers in Quesnel are getting a sneak peak at BC Transit’s latest test project: a 27.5-foot European-inspired community bus.

Smaller than a typical bus, the compact and narrow Vicinity is being eyed as a potential alternative for use on local, community routes, often travelling through residential streets.

“BC Transit provides a variety of services, from limited-stop service to regional connectors and local community shuttles,” president and CEO of BC Transit Manuel Achadinha said.

“In order to provide effective and efficient service, the buses must be well-suited to its application.

“This prototype is an example of how BC Transit continually strives to identify innovative and sustainable transportation choices.”

The Vicinity began testing during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, helping to provide BC Transit’s enhanced service in the Sea-To-Sky region. The bus continues testing in a number of communities across B.C., allowing the prototype to be tested in a variety of climate conditions and terrain during its six month trial period. BC Transit is the first transit company in North America to test the Vicinity bus. “We are thrilled to be one of the communities chosen to test BC Transit’s prototype community bus.

“I am extremely pleased that the Vicinity will offer even more of our residents travel accessibility,” Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom said. “We applaud the efforts of BC Transit in their goal to provide sustainable transportation.” The bus will undergo testing in Quesnel for about six weeks. The Canadian-designed low-floor bus includes a ramp at the front door with kneeling capabilities and seats 23 passengers. Drivers have commented that the bus offers good visibility and driveability. Customers have noticed a smoother ride, due to the computerized air-ride suspension. Preliminary data shows substantial long-term cost savings in fuel and maintenance plus a longer service life compared to other buses in its class.

“The Vicinity takes the 40-foot bus model and shrinks it to a size that is better suited to community routes,” CEO of Grande West Transportation, based in Aldergrove, B.C., William Trainer said.

This initiative supports BC Transit’s goal of identifying cleaner, greener and more efficient ways to provide sustainable transportation.