SEPTA approves deal for hybrid buses

SEPTA approved a contract Thursday that will bring more than 500 new buses to the city by 2021.

The $411.8 million, five-year contract with New Flyer of America, of Winnipeg, Canada, will pay for 525 diesel-electric hybrid buses. The buses will begin arriving next year, SEPTA officials said, and in five years 95 percent of the agency's bus fleet will be made up of hybrid vehicles.

SEPTA's board voted for the contract at its monthly meeting Thursday. At the same meeting it approved the fiscal year 2017 $1.4 billion operating budget, a 3 percent increase over the prior year. The $548.63 million capital plan is supported by $326.8 million in state funds; $210.9 million in federal money; and $10.9 million in matching funds from Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties.

The budget will support construction projects such as the Crum Creek Viaduct replacement and rehabilitation work on a span of rail along the Media/Elwyn line. SEPTA is devoting $77.1 million to the long-promised SEPTA Key electronic fare card and $18 million is going to signal systems, communications, and technology, including equipment for vehicles to provide riders with current information about vehicle locations.

The board also approved plans to increase parking at the Regional Rail stop in Swarthmore. The agreement to exchange property with Swarthmore College will give SEPTA 11,023 square feet of land near the train station, well-situated for parking, in exchange for 9,075 square feet of land currently held by SEPTA that the college will use in improvement projects.

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