BILLINGS — MET transit, the public transportation system in Billings, is rolling out new buses. There are currently eight new buses in operation, with nine more on their way.
The buses are blue instead of green and feature MET transit's new logo. The new buses are slightly shorter, at 32 feet as opposed to 35 feet, but are much more fuel-efficient and brand new.
“The old fleet that we had ran about 3.5 to 3.8 miles per gallon, and these new ones consistently get from 6.3 to 6.5 miles per gallon,” said Rusty Logan, the transit manager for the city of Billings.
Logan says the old buses were about 17 years old and had over seven million combined miles. Logan also says that the new buses have lower emissions than the old buses.
The new vehicles will not only save the city money in fuel, but the frequency of maintenance will be less, which will cut back on costs.
“Getting these new buses on the street, not only are they a better-looking vehicle but they’re a much more reliable vehicle now. They’re a much more accessible vehicle due to the ramps instead of using lifts so it just makes the transit system that much more reliable for the city of Billings,” said Logan.
The new buses have wheelchair-accessible ramps and are lower to the ground.
Logan hopes the money they save in fuel and maintenance will be enough for MET transit to expand with Billings.
“Transit is sometimes the only option for people. We have a high number of individuals with disabilities that use our system, a high number of students that use our system, and they don’t have any other option to get around so providing that baseline of transportation is very important for the community,” said Logan.
The buses also have on-board Wi-Fi, a 360-degree camera system for increased safety, and a digital fare system.
“Passengers can buy their fares online, they can call over the phone and we’ll mail them the card, they either end up with a smart card or they can actually use their phone to purchase passes and pay for those. Passengers can now get a card from us that they can take to any CVS pharmacy location in town and reload it there. It’s really opened up the convenience for individuals if they do have that card or pay with cash then they can go somewhere other than MET or city hall to get that,” said Logan.
Overall, the buses cost $6.3 million, which was obtained through grants.
In all, there will be over 17 new buses and Logan hopes to get them all running by Thanksgiving.