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New WMT paratransit buses
REGION -- Western Maine Transportation Services General Manager, Patrick Christian, announced the public transportation provider for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford Counties has received six new 12-seat/2-wheelchair paratransit buses to replace an equal number of buses that will be retired due to age and high mileage.
Features of the new Ford F450-based StarTrans buses include convertible seats in the first two rows which reduce the need for separate child seats and two dedicated wheelchair tie-down locations.
“A very important feature on these buses designed to improve passenger and driver comfort, increase reliability and extend the life of the chassis and the body is the addition of the “Mor/ryde” rubber shear spring system. These augment the rear leaf springs to reduce vibration and road-shock, reducing wear and tear on the bus,” said Christian.
The buses won universal praise from their drivers during the first day on the road, Thursday, June 30. Unlike the rest of the WMTS paratransit fleet, the new buses are gasoline powered.
According to Christian, this is part of the new state specification for smaller paratransit buses. “The cost of diesel-powered buses would have been an additional $10,000 per bus and the difference in projected fuel costs-per-mile over the seven-year/200,000 mile duty rating of the buses was not great enough to warrant the difference in price. It is also hoped that the gasoline engines will be less costly to maintain than the newer 'clean' diesel engines,” said Christian.
Western Maine Transportation Services operates 17 paratransit buses, all equipped with wheelchair lifts, and an additional 10 minivans, all equipped with lift-assisted front passenger seats. Funding for the new buses came from the Federal Transit Administration, the Maine Department of Transportation and Western Maine Transportation Services.