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Eco-friendly buses hit Milwaukee streets

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The new Milwaukee City Buses. Photo by Emily Waller / Emily.Waller@Marquette.edu

Stylish and clean — not exactly the first two words Milwaukee residents associate with the public bus system.

But the overheated, environmentally displeasing and 16-year-old buses are making way for 90 brand new Clean Diesel Near Zero Emission vehicles for all to not only travel on, but feast their eyes upon as well.

In total, the 90 buses cost close to $33 million, with half funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus package passed in 2009. Local taxes will fund the other half.

In 2011, Milwaukee County will purchase an additional 35 buses.

A year after the project was announced, the first new bus was unveiled on July 14 at the Milwaukee County courthouse. These buses offer an estimated 40 million riders per year the opportunity to travel stylishly and with the environment in mind.

Anita Gulotta-Connelly, Milwaukee County Transit System managing director, said in a press release the system is “grateful for the opportunity to update their fleet with the latest green technology.”

“We are proud of our commitment to not only providing reliable, convenient and safe public transportation services for our riders, but improving the quality of life of all residents of Milwaukee County with these environmentally-friendly buses.” Gulotta-Connelly said.

These buses manufactured by New Flyer, headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and are equipped with the Cummins After Treatment System. The system includes reduction of oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter, achievement of near-zero emissions and industry-best fuel economy.

In simpler terms, the buses will produce less air pollution and be better for the environment while requiring less public money spent on fuel.

Paige Harasha, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she thinks it’s great that the system made changes on all of the buses.

“Most of the time companies say they’re going to go green, but never legitimately do anything about it,” Harasha said. “Hopefully these buses will make a difference…even if it’s just a small one.

New exterior and interior designs are also part of the Milwaukee Transit rejuvenation.

The traditional color scheme of blue, green and white has been updated to a more modern look on the buses’ exterior. The buses still keep the ribbon of gold, which symbolizes the 1987 and 1999 American Public Transportation Association selections of America’s best transit system and was first added in 2000.

Buses have a brighter interior as well, with new blue seats replacing the previous brown color. The inside is also made to be more comfortable with a relocated air conditioner, LED lighting and new “STOP” buttons to signal drivers. These buttons replace the yellow cables along the bus windows, making it easier for riders to catch the driver’s attention.

Additionally, new fall route and schedule changes come with the physical makeover.

Changes which began Sunday affect 32 routes, including frequently student-traveled routes, 63 Silver Spring Dr. and 30 Sherman-Wisconsin. Minor time changes and the addition of more stops are most common adjustments in the new schedules.

Both physical and internal changes to the system hold part in the 2010 MCTS 150th year celebration of public transportation. Upcoming events for the celebration include a full-length October deal for $2 off a weekly pass or strip of tickets for MCTS Rider Insiders.

In a statement referencing the celebration, Gulotta-Connelly said their transit has been and will continue to be vital.

“During the last century and a half in Milwaukee, public transportation has been there through the civil wars and world wars,” Gulotta-Connelly said. “It’s been here as Milwaukee increased not only in population, but in growth of industry, school and universities, highways, utilities and improved quality of life.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “Eco-friendly buses hit Milwaukee streets”

  1. Watchman on September 8th, 2010 12:21 pm

    Since MCTS cleans their buses only occasionally, the new vehicles are best ridden now before their cabins inevitably lose their fresh ambience…

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