Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus (BBB) fleet will be growing greener thanks to the almost $13 million the BBB will be receiving in federal stimulus funding.The BBB is planning on using the funds to purchase 10 new 30-foot gasoline-electric hybrids buses for use on the neighborhood Mini Blue lines, three 60-foot flexible articulated buses for use with the BBB’s Rapid 3 and Rapid 7 lines and up to three 40-foot alternative fueled buses that will replace several of their older diesel buses.BBB’s Director of Transit Services, Stephanie Negriff stated in a press release on March 25 that the “stimulus funds will allow the transit agency to solve several key community needs, including offering quieter and environmentally friendly hybrid buses on its Mini Blue neighborhood routes, … and introduce new articulated buses on the agency’s busiest lines.” The Mini neighborhood routes include the Crosstown Ride and the Sunset Ride routes. The Rapid 3 bus goes from Downtown Santa Monica to LAX while the Rapid 7 goes from Downtown Santa Monica to the Rimpau Transit Center.Linda Gamberg, the BBB’s Marketing and Public Information Coordinator told the Mirror that the hybrid buses would cost about $700,000 each, include seats for up to 26 passengers, and could hold approximately up to 42 people if some passengers stand. Gamberg also stated that the articulated buses “will be the biggest ever in our fleet” and will cost about $1 million each. They will contain 60 seats and can hold up to 100 passengers if passengers also stand. She wasn’t sure what type of fuel they will run on because they haven’t been ordered yet but thought it would be either CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) or LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas). The 40 foot alternative fuel buses will cost about $3 million, will contain 40 seats, and can hold up to 55 passengers with some of them standing. Either CNG or LNG also will fuel them.Gamberg noted that the BBB had used hybrids before in its fleet but they didn’t have enough power and there were also maintenance issues. However, they are willing to try the newer generation of bus hybrids because they are more reliable. She emphasized that the BBB’s purchase of the hybrids is helping to stimulate Southern California’s economy as well as the national economy.El Dorado National which is located in Riverside will build the bus hybrids. They will build the bus shell in Riverside and the conversion element for the hybrid engine will be built in Poway which is near San Diego. Other U.S. companies will produce and supply the other necessary bus components. Negriff noted in the press release that “a key benefit that will result from the new stimulus funding is that it will allow the agency to build the infrastructure necessary to connect the network of feeder lines to the Expo light rail when it opens” in Santa Monica.
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