The Chapel Hill Town Council has authorized Town Manager Roger Stancil to sign a contract for the purchase of up to 45 new buses for Chapel Hill Transit.
The buses are part of a joint purchase between the town of Chapel Hill, the city of Durham and Triangle Transit.
“We are working together as transit industries in the triangle,” Chapel Hill Transit Director Brian Litchfield said.
“We will hopefully show that we are buying in bulk. The partnership has been incredibly successful.”
Placing all three orders together makes the price of the buses cheaper.
“Ideally, if all agencies order the same type of buses, then the unit cost will decrease and offer savings for the agencies,” said Lauren Parker, marketing manager for Triangle Transit. “That’s the benefit of joint purchasing.”
Under this contract, the town can purchase up to 45 buses. These would replace the 42 buses in Chapel Hill that are out of date, including 13 out of 19 EZ Rider buses, Litchfield said.
The out-of-date buses were built between 1996 and the early 2000s. They lack security cameras and comfortable seating, Litchfield said.
Since the model is no longer manufactured, they are expensive to maintain.
The cost of repairs adds up, as the out-of-date buses make up almost half of Chapel Hill Transit’s 99-bus fleet.
“We have to have reliable public transportation for Chapel Hill to function,” council member Maria Palmer said.
“If you have buses that are old and breaking down, they will stop using transit.”
Triangle Transit is due to order 13 replacement buses in fiscal year 2016 and six more in fiscal year 2017, Parker said. These buses will have the same technological features of the current buses.
Buses for all three jurisdictions are estimated to cost $450,000 each. The cost will be funded through a combination of federal, state and local sources.
Litchfield said it’s challenging for the transit system to attract available federal funding for replacing the buses.
Palmer said she wants to hear student input on the issue. It is difficult to travel off campus without a means of transportation, and cars would impact a student’s budget, she said.
“This is of critical importance to students,” she said. “It is important for students to say what they want to see in the buses.”
She also expressed interest in transitioning to electric buses.
The Chapel Hill Town Council will hear more details about the plan at their retreat at the end of the month.