Fewer pollutants make buses healthy addition

Erin Ghere

The Metro Transit buses that students ride to campus will soon be replaced with newer, less polluting ones.
Next month, the Metropolitan Council will begin phasing in 67 new buses with cleaner-burning engines. Many of the buses currently in use hail from the late 1980s.
“It’s time to upgrade our already sound bus systems with comfortable and efficient vehicles,” said Ted Mondale, chairman of the Metropolitan Council.
The new engines will release less than half the amount of pollutants released by the older ones.
Emissions are based on the amount of grams of pollutants released per hour. The older buses release one gram per hour; the new buses will release between .4 and .5 grams per hour.
By the end of 2000, the amount of emissions produced by the buses will decline by 76 percent, said Vince Pellegrin, director of equipment maintenance for Metro Transit.
“This is part of the normal bus replacement cycle,” Pellegrin said, which will be completed in 2003.
Metro Transit buses operate more than 100 routes around the Twin Cities, including nearly a dozen that have stops on the University campus.
In mid-February, a four-year contract was signed with Gillig Corporation in Hayward, Calif., to produce the buses.
Through Gillig, 500 Metro Transit buses will be replaced over the next four years to the tune of $135 million — the largest amount the Metropolitan Council has ever invested in new buses.
Buses are generally replaced within 12 years of when they were purchased, Pellegrin said.
The council will purchase buses several times throughout the year. In March, 67 buses are to be replaced; between 30 and 45 hit the streets later in the year.
All of the new buses will be handicapped accessible, making the entire fleet accessible. At present, some of the older buses are not.
To make them more accessible, Metro Transit is looking into two options. The first, a low-floor bus, would feature one-step ramps for wheelchairs. The second would include a hydraulic lift. Both options are being tested on a trial basis.