ABQ RIDE’s New Sun Vans an Upgrade in Looks and Comfort
ABQ RIDE has brand, new Sun Vans. And they’re sporting a new look, along with the capability of carrying more customers than ever before.
The vans will start plying Albuquerque’s streets later this October with the distinctive green and blue color design and depictions that ABQ RIDE’s newer buses have (ranging from The Kimo Theater to the Alvarado Transportation Center, Sandia Peak Tramway, Balloon Fiesta, San Felipe de Neri Church, the Petroglyphs National Monument, Route 66 and a UNM Lobo). They’ll also carry up to 14 riders and as many as three wheelchair passengers; more than any other Sun Van model has ever carried.
"Serving thousands of riders each month, our Sun Van vehicles are a vitally important resource in our community,” said Mayor Richard J. Berry. “The new design and increased capacity demonstrates our commitment to constantly improve the ridership experience and provide the best possible service to our paratransit riders.”
40 new, 24 foot Sun Vans will replace the dependable, but well-worn 2800-Series vans that were the work horses for the program. They feature raised floors with no wheel wells that can accommodate up to 14 passengers and 3 wheelchairs in comfort. Each Sun Van also features a Braun Millennium Series-2 Mobility Lift at the front of the van to load wheelchairs faster and easier than the older model Sun Vans could.
Once completely outfitted, the new Sun Vans will feature radio equipment and the latest Seon brand cameras. They will also use computer tablets to help drivers keep track of customers and their intended routes. Previous Sun Vans used a fixed, mobile data terminal that cost up to $6,500 per van. ABQ RIDE will now spend only about $500 per van for a computer tablet, protective case and mounting hardware. That’s a savings of almost a quarter million dollars for the City.
Even the engines on the new Vans have been upgraded to Ford E-450 unleaded-fuel engines, along with quieter, high-capacity Thermal King air conditioners that offer a more comfortable climate than the older vans had. ABQ RIDE purchased the new Sun Vans for a little over $3.45 million; a combination of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) money (81%) and City of Albuquerque General Obligation bonds (19%). ABQ RIDE will continue to receive the vans and outfit them through the end of October, 2015.
“I believe that when Sun Van customers start riding the new vans, they’ll be happy with the appearance and with the added comfort,” said Bruce Rizzieri, Director of ABQ RIDE.