The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Tuesday approved the purchase of 33 New Flyer Inc. buses at a price of $55.5 million to bolster Muni’s fleet. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

Transit board approves purchase of 33 new Muni buses

The City’s transit agency will fast track the purchase of 33 buses to bolster Muni’s fleet after the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors unanimously approved the purchase of the buses for $55.5 million Tuesday.

The 33 new 60-foot buses are expected to arrive by December 2017, said Gary Chang, project manager of bus procurement at the SFMTA. He said the new buses are key to improving Muni’s reliability with customers.

“The feedback we’ve been getting is they’re really happy with performance,” Chang said of Muni riders.

These are part of a group of more than 200 new buses the SFMTA is racing to purchase ahead of its initial proposed schedule, with the aid of funding approved in February from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

These 60-foot “articulated” trolley buses, so named for the accordion neck connecting its two halves, are also part of a cohort of buses that failed internal acceleration tests provided to the San Francisco Examiner by the SFMTA, showing they had trouble with San Francisco’s steeper hills.

The SFMTA previously said the buses will be used on flatter routes, like the 49-Van Ness.

Chang told the board, “by exercising [the contract] today, we get to lock into the lower vehicle price.” He told the Examiner if the purchase were made next year, for instance, it may cost 2 to 3 percent higher, due to various cost increases.

Tom Nolan, chair of the SFMTA board, told Chang, “We hear so many times about vehicles breaking down, so this is just great.”

The purchase from manufacturer New Flyer Inc. must go before the Board of Supervisors for final approval.

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