Nanaimo Regional Transit staff have a chance to see the assembly line where its new natural gas powered buses will be built, but the head of the transit system has yet to decide whether the trip is worth the cost.
B.C. Transit and Winnipegbased New Flyer Industries Inc. inked a deal in June for 25 compressed natural gas-powered buses to replace the aging diesel vehicles in the Nanaimo Regional Transit fleet.
It means a cleaner, quieter. more efficient fleet of buses that should last longer than the existing diesel-powered fleet.
B.C. Transit invited Regional Transit to tour the plant in Winnipeg, and a U.S. facility, to see the production line for the 12-metre Xcelsior heavy duty buses.
It's an opportunity to kick the tires before delivery, and to make sure there are no surprises when the first bus arrives, as early as December.
"We haven't confirmed anything," said Dennis Trudeau, regional transportation manager.
"It's a long trip and we always review costs for these things. I haven't committed."
It was announced in March that more than half of the fleet would be replaced with new buses fueled by CNG.
Fortis announced a $104.5-million incentive program in 2012 to develop CNG as an alternative fuel in the province.
Nanaimo, which was about to replace its aging fleet, was said to be at the right place at the right time. That allowed it to beat out such cities as Victoria and Kelowna.
Trudeau said he is still considering whether to send someone on the week-long trip to New Flyer plants in Winnipeg and Crookston, Minn.
He said might make sense to send a mechanic, to see the buses being built, at a cost of "in the order of $2,000," but "I don't think there's any value in sending any more than one person." Delivery of the buses is expected to be complete by March.
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