Council's public works committee voted in favour of a plan to buy used articulated buses after Winnipeg Transit's director called them a "fantastic deal."

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A Winnipeg city committee has voted in favour of buying used articulated buses from Ottawa.

WAYNE CUDDINGTON / POSTMEDIA NEWS ARCHIVES

A Winnipeg city committee has voted in favour of buying used articulated buses from Ottawa.

Council's public works committee voted in favour of a plan to buy used articulated buses after Winnipeg Transit's director called them a "fantastic deal."

Last week, Winnipeg Transit announced it wants to spend $1.1 million to purchase articulated buses at a discounted rate from New Flyer Industries, after Ottawa traded them in for new buses. The buses will cost $53,000 each, instead of the $625,000 they would cost brand-new.

In total, it will cost Winnipeg $2.2 million to buy and fix up the buses.

The used articulated buses Winnipeg wants to buy have been called "lemons" and were part of Ottawa’s old fleet that had faulty parts that caused some buses to catch fire.

Ottawa used the buses between 2001 and 2004, and media reports show that some articulated buses had defective parts and faulty brakes which caused some buses to catch fire. In April 2010, Ottawa city council voted to replace 226 of its articulated buses with newer, fuel-efficient models.

A report said Ottawa's transit company, OC Transpo, had a large backlog of work due to "major repairs" required on some of the 226 articulated buses purchased between 2001 and 2004. It said it would cost OC Transpo $66 million to overhaul the buses.

Media reports show one city councillor called the buses "lemons."

Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop told council's public works committee this morning that the buses are a fantastic deal and will help reduce overcrowding on city buses. He said Winnipeg will send in its mechanics, and pick the 20 best out of the 226.

Wardrop said some of Ottawa's old buses had an assortment of issues, but these have been sorted out.

"I have no reason to believe that these buses are going to be any more problematic than others," Wardrop said.

Public works chairman Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) said based on advice from city administration, Winnipeggers are going to get value for their money. He said Winnipeg Transit has confirmed the issues with the buses have been resolved, and will help accommodate the growth in ridership.

Vandal said transit expects to add 55,000 additional service hours in 2012, compared to 2011.

"We're taking the best professional advice from our administration," he said following this morning's public works meeting. "Is there some risk? There's likely some risks but based on their advice this is a good deal."

An administrative report recommends Winnipeg add 20 articulated buses to its fleet amid concern there are increasing instances where buses along busy routes have left would-be passengers behind because they're overcrowded.

Articulated buses, which are about 18 metres long, carry about 40 per cent more passengers than a regular bus. A new report said 16 articulated buses that operate seven hours each day would relieve many cases of overcrowding on Winnipeg's busiest transit routes.

Winnipeg Transit estimates it will cost $11,500 to fix up each bus.

Due to the work required, Winnipeg Transit will likely not put the buses into service before 2014. New Flyer has agreed to store the buses in a heated facility for two years, which will give Winnipeg Transit time to refurbish and outfit them.