(Tribune illustration / April 21, 2012)

Calling it too good of a deal to pass up, the CTA board today approved the purchase of 100 new accordion-style buses that were left over from a contract initiated by the Seattle transit system.

The CTA will pay New Flyer of America Inc. $80.1 million for the 67 clean-diesel buses and 33 hybrid-electric buses.

The 60-foot articulated buses were part of an order for up to 715 buses that King County Metro Transit in Seattle agreed to purchase from New Flyer. The CTA will use federal and local funds.

The Seattle system did not exercise its option on the 100 buses the CTA will acquire to expand the capacity of its bus fleet and offer a more comfortable riding experience for CTA customers, officials said.
 
The new buses will be delivered late this year through the middle of 2013, said Marina Popovic, CTA vice president of purchasing and warehousing.

The buses will begin replacing 40-foot Nova buses that have been in service for almost 12 years, which is the recommended service life for transit buses.

The $80.1 million acquisition is “a very good price because we looked at how comparable it was to our last purchase from New Flyer and it was literally within several thousand dollars (per bus) of our previous purchase,’’ Popovic said. “Because the emission standards have changed over the course of the last several years, the prices have gone up.’’

CTA President Forrest Claypool said the new buses will be assigned primarily to routes where ridership has increased and buses are packed standing-room-only during rush periods.

“Part of it is adding additional capacity to de-crowd on peak points,’’ Claypool said. “It is basically to make the experience more comfortable for our riders and more appealing to them.’’

The 33 new hybrids will expand the number of diesel-electric buses to 328. The CTA operates 1,780 buses.
 
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