June 4, 1996
Buses that `kneel' and bus shelters that `talk' are features of a revolutionary new bus service for the free Perth inner city route.
Transport Minister Eric Charlton today unveiled one of the new CAT (Central Area Transit) buses which will replace the central Perth City Clippers. There will be 16 technologically advanced buses in the fleet which will be phased in from late July.
"Perth already has the best public transport system in Australia and the new CAT service is Australia's most advanced urban bus service," Mr Charlton said.
The European-built buses, winners of a Danish industrial design award, feature a unique suspension system that permits the floor to be lowered to kerb level to allow easy access for passengers with disabilities, mothers with young children or people with awkward loads.
Locally designed, high-tech bus shelters will use radio antennas to track the buses and provide up-to-the-minute schedule information in visual and audible formats.
Mr Charlton said the buses had been selected after a careful two year appraisal of the best the world had to offer, in terms of customer convenience, cost efficiency and environmental friendliness.
"The buses are unique in Australia in their ability to accommodate the needs of passengers with disabilities or people, like mothers with young children, who may find it difficult to board a conventional bus," he said.
"We have also been mindful of Perth's environmental needs, selecting vehicles powered by the latest, low-emission EURO 2 diesel engine," he said.
Mr Charlton said it had not been possible to select an Australian-built vehicle that met the WA Department of Transport's stringent performance and environmental criteria. However, roughly 12.5 per cent of the assembly and finishing work would be carried out in Perth, and the supply company, Scania, had undertaken a counter-trade agreement with the State Government to match the value of the contract.
Funding for the buses has been jointly provided by the Federal Government, under the Building Better Cities Scheme, the State Government and the Perth City Council.
"We believe the service - which will be free of charge - will be welcomed by commuters and visitors alike, and are confident that it will encourage any people to leave their cars at home when they come to the city," Mr Charlton said.
He said the new buses would be phased in during July and August. MetroBus has been awarded the contract to run the CAT service.
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