TransLink will spend $9.35 million from the federal gas tax fund to replace 62 defective diesel community shuttles after recurring complaints about exhaust fumes that were making drivers sick.
The use of the fund was approved by Metro Vancouver directors Friday and the replacement vehicles are expected to arrive next spring.
The offending shuttles are two to three years old and there have been transit service delays at times when they’ve had to be pulled from service.
According to TransLink, the replacement shuttles are “urgently required due to growing concerns over the emission problems.”
The shuttles had been based out of Port Coquitlam and had been used primarily in the Tri Cities, Maple Ridge, Burnaby and New Westminster.
The transportation authority said operators have been booking off sick because of large amounts of fumes, adding there have also been growing public complaints about excessive tailpipe smoke.
The fumes had also led to orders from WorkSafeBC on minimizing risk to staff and passengers.
The new shuttles will be powered by gasoline instead of diesel.
Gas-powered shuttles cost less than diesel models – about $140,000 instead of $250,000 – but don’t last as long, with a five-year lifespan instead of seven. TransLink expects lower operating costs.
TransLink is still trying to fix the defective diesel shuttles and doesn’t rule out returning them to service if possible.
Trouble with those shuttles isn’t unique to TransLink – class-action lawsuits are in progress in other jurisdictions against the manufacturer.