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Asheville, NC to purchase new GILLIG Clean Diesel buses to replace aging fleet

Read the original at Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE - The city will purchase three new buses for its aging Asheville Rides Transit fleet with $1.9 million in federal grant and city funds.

The system has a fleet of 35 buses, over half of which have racked up more than 500,000 miles and are past their useful life, said a city staff report. The purchase authorization comes about a month after reports of issues around the city's five electric buses, with complications largely due to their manufacturer, California-based Proterra, declaring bankruptcy in summer 2023.

The $1.9 million — $974,066 of which is from previously received 2018 federal grant funding and $922,540 from a local match programmed into the city's fiscal year 2024 Capital Improvement Program — will purchase three 30-foot "clean diesel" Gillig buses.

Council's vote, taken during its Feb. 27 consent agenda, also authorized City Manager Debra Campbell to utilize sole source procurement for technology equipment from Clever Devices, Seon, UTA and Mobileye, not to exceed $200,000.

The equipment is already installed on other ART buses, providing services like audible passenger announcements, internal and external audio systems, an automatic passenger count system and a pedestrian and bicyclist detection and warning system.

To achieve and maintain a more reliable fleet, said the staff report, it is necessary to replace approximately four buses annually at the city's current service level.

Upon approval of the purchase order, it is anticipated to take 12-15 months for the buses to be manufactured, delivered and fully operational as part of the ART fleet.

The current fleet includes five electric, 12 hybrids and 18 biodiesel for the city's 18 routes.

The city has contracted with RATP Dev USA for operations and maintenance of ART since 2017. The eight-year contract, totaling $58.8 million, is set to expire June 2025. 

The RATP Dev contract is overseen by the city's Transportation Department. The adopted fiscal year 2024 budget was $14 million, the bulk of which went toward the contract. This fiscal year, the Transit Services Fund received a little over $3 million in federal state grants and was also subsidized with money from the general and parking funds, a typical practice.


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