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New accessible transportation vehicle to increase efficiency, improve comfort for passengers: Cold Lake

The newest member of the City’s Special Transportation bus fleet will
improve efficiency and reduce pollution, while providing passengers with a safer and more comfortable ride, says Cold Lake officials.

The City has awarded a procurement contract to Sherwood Park-based Western Canada Bus, for a new low-floor, accessible special transportation vehicle to be delivered in August 2021.

City Council allocated $100,000 for the new vehicle in the 2021 capital budget.

“This new, cleaner-burning gas vehicle will replace the last diesel-powered bus in our fleet, making the service more energy-efficient and cutting down on maintenance and service costs,” said Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Nagoya. “But the most significant upgrade comes in the ramp for passengers who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids. Instead of a hydraulic system that lifts passengers onto the bus, the new vehicle is equipped with a heated ramp that extends to the ground and ensures quick and easy loading of passengers who are unable to walk on.”

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At capacity, the City says the new vehicle can accommodate six passengers in wheelchairs or 15 walk-on passengers at one time. In addition to the specialized loading ramp, the vehicle will come equipped with:

    •  Low-floor design with a single step onto the bus (as opposed to three steps on older vehicles).
    • Internally heated ramp to avoid snow or ice build-up.
    • IntelliSync “smart” suspension system to improve passenger comfort.
    • LED interior lighting
    • Built-in sanitizer station for passengers to sanitize hands when boarding/exiting.
    • Improved heating/air conditioning.

“We expect to see a significant improvement in efficiency in terms of loading and unloading the bus,” said Nagoya. “On the older buses with the hydraulic lifts, it can sometimes take five minutes to lower the lift, load the passenger, raise the lift up to floor-level, unload the passenger and repeat. When we have five or six people waiting to get on the bus, those minutes really add up and our passengers have told us the bus can get very cold in the winter when the doors are open for extended periods of time. This new single-level ramp will allow us to board passengers much faster, close the doors, and be on our way sooner.”

Administered by Cold Lake and District FCSS, the Special Transportation service operates seven days per week. Nearly 6,000 passengers relied on the service in 2019, averaging 16 passengers per day.

With files from a City of Cold Lake press release

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