The Waco Transit System has expanded its fleet with five new state-of-the-art buses purchased with a Texas Department of Transportation grant of more than $2.1 million.

Waco Transit officials Monday unveiled the new vehicles during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“The new buses are heavy-duty and reflect the highest quality available in the market,” John Hendrickson, Waco Transit System general manager, said in a statement. “In moving forward with this investment, we’ll be able to accommodate higher ridership levels and enhance passenger safety and comfort, for a more enjoyable ride.”

The new buses are expected to hit the streets in June, just in time for the Texas heat. The new buses feature increased passenger comfort with the best air-conditioning components the district could get, Waco Transit assistant general manager Allen Hunter said. The cooler rides will also be quieter inside, so passengers can hold quiet conversations, rather than having to raise their voices to be heard over the sound of the buses, Hunter said. The more robust vehicles will also provide for a smoother ride, while larger seats will allow for more space, he said.

New Flyer Industries designed and built the buses after a Waco Transit selection committee reviewed the request-for-proposal submissions.

Buses of this nature typically take one or two years to build and ship, but it took New Flyer Industries only a fraction of that time, Hunter said.

“We were very, very pleased with it,” he said.

Waco Transit has a fleet of 18 operating transit buses, which are approaching their 12-year, or 500,000 mile, life spans, Hunter said. The new buses will help support and maintain Waco Transit’s current level of service.

The new buses also feature technological advances, which include allowing employees to plug in a laptop to run diagnostics, saving hours of troubleshooting time, Hunter said. The vehicles also have improved fuel efficiency and will continue to offer advertising on the vehicles like the current fleet, he said. The new buses will also include six cameras instead of four, with four inside and two outside, he said. Videos can be reviewed if there is ever a complaint of service, and the department randomly pulls video to audit drivers’ performance, he said.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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