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New Articulated and Hybrid-Electric Buses -- Combined With Fuel Purchase -- Will Upgrade Fleet and Reduce Emissions

NEWARK, NJ, November 5, 2001 -- The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today awarded three contracts in an ongoing effort to provide the Corporation's customers with a modernized bus fleet and reduce engine emissions.

The Board awarded a contract not to exceed $42.5 million to Neoplan USA Corporation of Lamar, CO to purchase 85 articulated buses with an option to purchase 70 more. The Board also awarded a contract not to exceed $8.8 million to MCII of Des Plaines, IL and ISE Reseach of San Diego, CA to purchase seven hybrid electric buses -- demonstration buses that will allow NJ TRANSIT to evaluate another fuel-efficient alternative for its bus fleet. Finally, the Board authorized the purchase of more than 20 million gallons of ultra low sulfer diesel fuel from Sprague Energy Corporation d/b/a RAD Energy Marketing for $54.2 million to fuel the Corporation's bus fleet.

"Today's Board action supports Acting Governor DiFrancesco's continuing commitment to meet growing passenger demands and give New Jersey commuters the latest in customer comfort," said NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman and State Transportation Commissioner James Weinstein. "It also allows New Jersey to stay at the forefront of the exploration of new fuel technologies that meet and exceed all federal clean air standards."

"NJ TRANSIT is in the midst of its largest fleet modernization in the Corporation's 21-year history," said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Jeffrey A. Warsh. "These new buses --combined with additional bus and rail fleet purchases now underway --will increase the reliability of service and offer our riders the latest in customer amenities. On the environmental side, with the world's newest clean diesel bus fleet fueled by ultra low sulfur diesel fuel, we will have one of the world's most environmentally-friendly bus systems years ahead of the 2007 federal mandate."

The articulated buses -- which are 60 feet long and include an "accordion," or bendable section in the middle -- can carry 59 seated passengers and additional standees. The buses will primarily be used on NJ TRANSIT's heavier traveled local and intercity bus routes. The new buses -- along with cruiser buses to be purchased in the future -- will be used to replace existing articulated buses that were bought by NJ TRANSIT in 1985 and have exceeded their 12-year useful life.

All of the new articulated buses have "kneeling" capabilities, wheelchair lifts and wheelchair seating areas, in full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The buses also will be equipped with emission controls that meet or exceed federal regulatory standards.

The first 85 articulated buses would consist of 50 transit style buses -- which are primarily used on local bus routes -- and 35 suburban style buses, which are used on longer distance intercity bus routes, mainly in New Jersey and New York. The first prototype vehicles are scheduled for delivery in August 2002. Final delivery of the vehicles is scheduled for winter 2003.

The seven hybrid electric buses purchased today by the Board of Directors will consist of four cruiser buses for use on intercity routes from MCII and three transit buses for use on local routes. The hybrid electric buses will compliment NJ TRANSIT's existing alternative technology bus fleet, joining 77 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) cruiser buses purchased by NJ TRANSIT in 1998.

Hybrid electric buses use a smaller diesel engine and generator to create electric power, which in turn feeds an electric motor to propel the bus. Hybrid electric buses are designed to improve fuel efficiency and significantly reduce vehicle emissions. Use of these buses also allows NJ TRANSIT to reduce additional capital and operating costs associated with alternative fuel vehicles such as required infrastructure and safety upgrades for the operation and maintenance of CNG buses.

Hybrid electric buses are projected to offer an improved fuel efficiency of 20 to 40 percent compared to conventional diesel buses. Information gathered during the demonstration project will help NJ TRANSIT determine the potential use of this or other technologies in future bus purchases.

Today's ultra low sulfur diesel fuel purchase spans three years, with two additional one-year options. Ultra low sulfur diesel fuel enables the Corporation to continue reducing engine emissions on its diesel-powered buses -- beyond federal standards. It also allows NJ TRANSIT to make a prudent business decision by "locking in" to diesel fuel prices in today's volatile oil market.

Ultra low sulfur diesel fuel goes through an extensive refining process, removing most sulfur from the product -- approximately 10 times less sulfur than standard diesel fuel. The new fuel, combined with other technological emission advances, helps to reduce particulate emissions by up to 75 percent.

NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing Bus, rail and light rail services for 380,600 daily commuters on 240 bus routes, two light rail lines and 12 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 163 rail stations, 26 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.