Checking into my social media accounts this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the first MetroRapid bus has rolled into town! Yes, you heard me right, HART’s new MetroRapid buses have begun their cross-country trek from California to Tampa, with the first one arriving yesterday! You can view a Twitter photo of the bus from HART’s Twitter Feed. They also have posted the news on their Facebook Page.
I’m very much surprised by the release of the new buses. I did not actually think that the new MetroRapid buses would begin rolling out until maybe January, 2013 at the earliest. However, since construction of the MetroRapid system is moving along rather quickly, I guess it is better for HART to have the buses ready to roll by the time the system opens (after all, the buses have to be driven around Tampa so that drivers are accustomed to the new buses and any bugs are worked out).
My understanding is that the new buses are very similar to that of the 29XX and 10XX buses that HART added to their fleet in 2009 and 2010 respectively. However, the rear end of the bus has a similar styling to that of the 25XX buses. The interiors sport the same seating configuration as the 29XX and 10XX buses, but the color scheme is that of white, gray, and green tones to match the MetroRapid livery. It is also my understanding that HART will have 12 of these buses on the road when the first segment of the MetroRapid system opens in 2013 (I previously had mentioned 15, but because HART later decided to reduce frequency of the route from 10 minute peak headways/15 minute non-peak headways to 15 minute peak/20 minute non-peak, the number of buses to be purchased for the route was reduced to 12). The buses are manufactured by Gillig Corporation, based in Hayward, California (yes, that’s why they make that cross-country trip).
I hope to have more info on this up soon! 😀