New buses are bound for Hampton Roads Transit.

Production at the Gillig factory in Livermore, CA, is underway for 28 new buses, and the first ones are expected to arrive in Norfolk this month.

HRT has purchased buses in various sizes that will replace on a nearly one-for-one basis some of our older rolling stock. It’s news the agency welcomes.

Using a combination of federal and state transit funds, HRT ordered thirteen 29-footers, seven 35-footers, three 40-footers, and five 40-foot MAX buses, said Michael Perez, Operation Projects and Contracts Administrator. They will cost $13,620,711, including on-site inspections, training, spare parts, etc., he said.

It takes about a week to build a modern transit bus and unlike some of our recent purchases, these buses will arrive almost ready to use with fareboxes, radios, computer aided dispatch – automatic vehicle locator systems and passenger counters already installed. All we need is license plates, registration and state inspection.

The prices for the various buses does not vary too much from one to another. The 29-footer cost $443,938, the 35-footers cost $450,863, the regular 40-footers cost $455,063 each and the MAX Commuter variant slightly more at $474,900 with the additional costs arising from special seating and luggage lofts.

The new buses contrast with last year’s nearly empty order of just one. The year before that we bought 32.

With the new buses, HRT will retire a bunch of older buses, Perez said.

“The buses we had rebuilt in 2013 are now eligible for retirement,” Perez said. “It’s hard to believe it’s been five years.”

Purchase of the new buses and the replacement of the older ones will not have a significant or immediate impact on the agency’s average fleet age.

“But when we get rid of some 19-year-old buses, you’ll see a big drop in the average age,” he said.