RTD plans to replace the buses that provide free rides along the 16th Street Mall by late fall with an all-electric fleet that’s so quiet they’ll need extra noisemakers to give pedestrians a heads-up.
The 36-bus fleet will be firehouse-red in front and blue in back with a capacity for 106 passengers. New features include air conditioning, luggage racks and low floors throughout. There will also be a new set of cameras on the exterior of the bus as an additional safety precaution.
The buses are battery-powered and fully electric, through a $27 million contract with BYD Motors. The electric feature produces about half the noise of a diesel bus. So they’re quiet — so quiet, in fact, that RTD will be testing noisemakers on the pilot bus to ensure pedestrian safety.
The old fleet of buses has seen better days. RTD spokeswoman Julia Marvin said they are 16 years old and have all logged about 200,000 miles.
“When you think that 16th Street Mall is only about a mile, that’s a lot of trips,” she said.
The pilot bus is still in testing, but RTD hopes to roll it out within four to six weeks, and aims to have all 36 in service by late fall.
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