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Amtran getting 3 new buses

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Amtran will be receiving three new Compressed Natural Gas buses from the Gillig factory in California within the next few weeks.

Ordered in mid-2023, the buses cost $720,000 each, with half the cost being paid by PennDOT and half by the Federal Transit Administration.

Two of the buses will be painted in traditional Amtran style, while one will be painted to look like a trolley of Amtran predecessor Altoona & Logan Valley Electric Railway.

Last year, the expectation was that the three new CNG buses would displace the final three hybrid diesels left in the 26-bus Amtran fleet, leaving only CNGs.

But because of a service expansion at Amtran during the past year, the organization will retain those three hybrid diesels for at least a year, which will expand the fleet to 29, CEO Josh Baker said Wednesday.

Before June 2023, all the organization’s buses but two were in the garage by about 6 p.m., but since the service expansion, they’re all out until 8 or 9 p.m., which has added pressure on the mechanics in the garage.

The garage is only open until 11 p.m., Baker said.

The mechanics have done a “great job” under that pressure, but retaining the hybrid diesels will provide relief, Baker said.

The bus that will be painted like a trolley will be orange along the body and cream-colored on top, Baker said.

Amtran workers had to pick those colors by number from a paint company chart to ensure a correct match, Baker said.

There will be decals to simulate the middle headlight and other trolley features.

The main innovation in construction of the three new buses will be a windshield so expansive that there is a need for side wipers, Baker said.

The bigger windshield will enable drivers to see better, enhancing safety, he said.

Gillig hires experienced drivers to bring the new buses to the customer, so all three will have approximately 3,000 miles on them before they arrive.

It’s part of the pre-delivery inspection protocol, Baker said.

While Baker would prefer the shakedown cruise wasn’t so long, it can help expose issues that would otherwise only show up after the buses are placed into service, according to Baker.

Still, only once in his experience has such a problem come to light, and it did so not long after leaving the Gillig factory, Baker said.


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