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What You Should Know About the New CTA Buses

About 300 new buses—$148 million worth—hit the streets in Chicago this month. Here’s what’s different about the fresh fleet.

Nova Bus
Photo: Brett Bulthuis

In early May, the first of at least 300 new CTA buses—built by the Canadian firm Nova Bus for a cool $148 million—will hit the streets. (That’s 17 percent of the 1,800-bus fleet.) At the same time, 484 of the existing 12-year-old models will head to the scrap yard. Here are eight differences between the two.


Rear bus window

1. Brighter

An extra inch of rear window, plus LED lights rather than fluorescents



2. Heavier

About 40,000 pounds—440 more than the old model (due mostly to a new engine cooling system that CTA says will allow for more fuel efficiency).


Security camera

3. More Security Cameras

10 vs. four before (giving CTA headquarters a better view of any trouble onboard)


Glass barrier

4. New Barrier

A 0.35-inch piece of glass between the card reader and the driver’s seat (to help protect the driver from unruly riders)



5. More Giddyup

A 280-horsepower engine vs. 250 before


Bus seats

6. One Fewer Seat

36 rather than 37. (A CTA spokesman blames wider aisles; he didn’t say how much wider.)


Card fare reader

7. Prettier Fare Card Readers

A sleeker box bolted to a yellow handrail



8. Easier-to-Clean Flooring

A solid piece of silicon carbide glass fiber instead of ridged pieces of linoleum


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