B.C. Transit has added 13 new buses to Victoria’s HandyDART fleet, with a further 15 expected to start service in Nanaimo in mid-June.
The buses serve people with mobility issues that prevent them from using the regular transit system.
The Micro Bird G5 light-duty bus, which costs approximately $176,000, is eight metres long and can carry up to 20 seated passengers and up to four mobility chairs.
“The biggest improvement with the new buses is the location of a lift system near the rear of the bus,” said B.C. Transit’s Jamie Weiss.
The lift allows for the safe loading and unloading of mobility aids, such as wheelchairs and scooters, from the curb side of the bus.
To protect the health of both drivers and passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the buses will be equipped with a temporary vinyl panel.
HandyDART is a door-to-door shared-ride service offering both a set route or custom option for people with physical or cognitive disabilities. In Victoria the service serves 40,000 residents, delivering about 390,000 trips per year.
The Victoria HandyDART fleet includes 56 buses.
The 15 buses destined for Nanaimo represent a revamp of their complete fleet. Buses have a service life of five to seven years.
The Victoria and Nanaimo deliveries are the first in a wider plan to add almost 70 light-duty buses to transit systems across the province in 2020.
These 28 new buses are all gasoline powered, but passengers should expect to see models powered by electricity to start appearing in the fleet by 2024 or 2025, said Weiss.