King County Metro Transit announced today that it will be purchasing 93 new buses from Daimler Buses through a $46 million grant awarded under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. King County Metro originally requested funds for 60 new buses but lower costs than expected allowed them to get 33 more. The agreement includes options to purchase 400 more buses in addition to the initial 93 buses over 5 years. Metro said they expect to see the first prototype delivered in about a year and the rest of the ordered buses delivered in early 2011.
The Orion VII buses will feature a modern look, low floors, air conditioning, and hybrid-electric technology which reduces fuel consumption, noise and emissions. They will replace Metro’s aging fleet of 40-foot Gilligs, which will be 14 years old when the new buses arrive. That’s two years longer than the expected life span of a transit bus. The Gilligs that Metro currently has are high floor and don’t have air conditioning. Over 700 hybrid-electric Orion VIIs are currently in service in New York City, Toronto, and San Francisco.