Passengers riding the public bus can now climb aboard with improved ease, thanks to the deployment of 42 new Connecticut Transit buses in New Haven this month. The buses, which are blue and feature low floors and no stairs, will replace nearly half of those currently serving the area, said David Lee, general manager of CT Transit.

“Eliminating stairs makes getting on and off easier, faster and safer for everyone, but especially for anyone who has difficulty climbing stairs — senior citizens, children, people carrying packages,” Lee said.

The 42 buses will become available gradually throughout January, Lee said, and Connecticut Transit will deliver 42 more this August. A total of 84 out of the 110 buses serving New Haven will be replaced. Additionally, Connecticut Transit raised fares on January 4 from $1 to $1.10. Fares will increase further to $1.25 next year. Connecticut Transit will also now offer three- and five-day passes in addition to one-day, seven-day and 31-day passes.

Lee said the new buses have manual ramps for wheelchair passengers, while the old buses have elevator lifts.

“The ramp is a big improvement for people with wheelchairs,” Lee said. “The wheelchair lift is a slow process that is very obtrusive. It calls attention to the person in a wheelchair.”

The new buses also boast cleaner engines, bicycle racks and upholstered seats instead of plastic ones.

“New state-of-the-art technology has made engines today much cleaner than in 1990 when the buses we are replacing were built,” Lee said.

The new buses look more attractive, Lee said, because they have blue and silver paint instead of white paint. Lee said the signs on the front, sides and back of the new buses are brighter and easier to read from a distance.

The buses being replaced are 12 years old, and a federal law requires that they be discontinued at that age, Lee said.

“The oldest buses are the most difficult, most expensive to maintain,” Lee said. “The wear and tear really affect reliability.”

Ashley Janice Law, a junior at Hillhouse High School, said she rides the bus twice each week, but has been inside a new bus just once.

“I like [the new buses],” Law said. “They’re not too high. When you step on [an old] bus, you have to lift half your leg up.”

But Vanessa Penn, department manager at CVS Pharmacy, said she prefers the old buses.

“I like the old ones better because there’s more room,” Penn said. “You’re not claustrophobic.”

Penn claimed the old buses are actually easier to board. She said the single step on the new buses is too high for her, especially because she has short legs.

Lee said each bus costs approximately $275,000, 80 percent of which is paid by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration. The remaining 20 percent comes from state bond funds.

Some passengers said they opposed the 10-cent increase in bus fare. Law said she finds change cumbersome to carry.

“Nobody carries 10 cents,” Law said. “They should have a change bucket so you can get change back.”

But Law said the improved buses compensate for the increase in fare.

“They’re comfortable, cleaner, not too high,” she said. “The lights are brighter.

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