Transit riders board one of two new Nova buses now in operation by Red Deer Transit. The new fuel efficient buses will replace aging vehicles in the fleet.

Transit riders board one of two new Nova buses now in operation by Red Deer Transit. The new fuel efficient buses will replace aging vehicles in the fleet.

New fuel efficient buses added to city’s fleet

The city’s transit service had some new wheels on the road Thursday.

The city’s transit service had some new wheels on the road Thursday.

As part of the initiative to green its fleet of approximately 50 buses, Red Deer Transit unveiled two new Nova buses Thursday to replace a couple of older units.

The buses are lighter, quieter, and easier to maintain than the transit service’s older models.

The buses’ improved features will result in fuel savings of between 12 and 18 per cent, according to Transit manager Kevin Joll.

The city was initially looking to procure hybrid buses, but backed away from the idea after noting concerns from other municipalities.

“The hybrids were boasted as being 25 per cent (more fuel efficient), but in reality they were somewhere in around the realm of this kind of percentage as well,” said Joll.

He added that hybrid buses are approximately $200,000 more expensive than the $425,000 price tag for the Nova buses, and are comparable in fuel economy.

Despite their improvements, the new buses cost approximately the same as less fuel-efficient buses the city has purchased in recent years.

The buses, manufactured in Quebec, are used in Calgary, Toronto and a number of other Canadian cities.

They feature a light stainless steel structure, electric engine cooling fans, and have better turning radii and stopping distances.

“They’re safer, they’re lighter, they’re more efficient and they’re quieter,” said Joll.

The two Nova buses will soon be seven, as the city allocated $2.2 million in its 2013 capital budget for the purchase of five more of the vehicles.

Two-thirds of the funding for the new additions came from the province’s Green Transit Incentives Program, through which Red Deer Transit is adding 40 new buses to the fleet over a five-year period.

mfish@bprda.wpengine.com