The Chicago Transit Authority recently accepted delivery of the first of 150 New Flyer DE60LF hybrid articulated buses. The CTA is leasing the 60-foot buses at a cost of approximately $13.4 million per year. The buses will be numbered as the 4000-series.
The new buses will result in substantial operating cost savings, attributed both to higher fuel efficiency and reduced maintenance.
The buses feature all the standard CTA amenities, including bike racks, passenger counting systems, GPS and EVDO technologies for voice annunciation and Bus Tracker, security cameras, and wheelchair ramps. The shell of the buses use the traditional New Flyer design, and not the newer “restyled” design.
Like the 1000-series D40LF buses, the DE60LFs make use of CLASS rear door technology. This system uses ultrasonic pulses to determine if a passenger is intending to exit the bus. However, the technology is often prone to failure and thus far has been a liability on the newly delivered DE60LFs. Unlike the D40LFs, passengers on the DE60LFs cannot manually push the doors open when the sensor system fails. This frequently requires the bus operator to use an override switch to open the rear doors.
While initial deliveries will contain 58 seats, future deliveries will contain just 54 seats due to the removal of seats from the articulation joint. CTA’s NABI articulated buses contain 61 seats, while standard length 40-foot New Flyer buses contain 39 seats.
Unlike the prototype bus, regular deliveries do not feature vents on the rear of the bus. The vents are unnecessary due to the presence of a roof-mounted HVAC unit. It’s not clear why the prototype bus contained the unneeded vents.
Delivery of the 4000-series DE60LFs have begun at a rate of approximately 5 per week. Ongoing deliveries of the 1000-series D40LFs will now subside to approximately half the previous delivery rate, which had resulted in over 10 buses per week.
DE60LF deliveries are currently being assigned to Kedzie Garage, for use primarily on the #156 LaSalle route.
Moving forward, the CTA plans to dramatically increase its fleet of articulated buses to levels never seen previously. Earlier this year, the Authority issued a procurement for the manufacture and delivery of up to 900 articulated hybrid buses. On October 14th, New Flyer of America also announced that CTA has “exercised options for 58 60-foot diesel hybrid buses.” Additional details regarding these options have yet to be announced.