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Riders don't like new buses

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Bus fixes promised at no cost to city

The city's new low-floor buses are generating plenty of complaints.

A woman boards the No. 9 at South King and Punchbowl streets early last evening. Many riders say the new low-slung buses are hard to enter and exit, not handicapped-friendly, and difficult to see into and out of.


Riders say the aisles are too narrow, grab bars are missing or hard to reach, and visibility looking into and out of the bus is poor. The city transportation director says the manufacturer has been contacted about the problems and will correct them.

Cheryl Soon, director of the city Department of Transportation Services, told the City Council's Transportation Committee last week that Gillig Corp., which makes the $450,000, 40-foot 40-seat buses, is expected to make changes at no cost to the city.

Soon told the committee that the 55 new buses were purchased mainly because they take less time at bus stops to pick up and drop off passengers and because they're easier for elderly riders to manage. But she said many of the complaints are legitimate.

"We have investigated and we concur," Soon said.

The low-floor buses can be recognized by their blue accent scheme rather than the more common yellow pattern and a bus number in the 500 series (visible at the front and rear of the bus as well as on the license plate).

Soon will be at the Downtown Neighborhood Board meeting tonight to discuss the bus problems and possible remedies. She said there are four primary issues with the new buses.

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