SEPTA has issued a request for proposal for the purchase of up to 360 diesel powered low floor buses for delivery between 2004 and 2006. This order would effectively retire the Neoplan fleet by the end of 2006. SEPTA will accept bids until September 10, then likely award the bid at either the October Board meeting.
The two test DE40LF coaches that SEPTA is slated to receive in a few months are tentatively numbered 5601H and 5602H. I doubt that they will retain those numbers once the rest of the 100 D40LF coaches arrive next year.
More buses at Midvale - particularly the NABIs - are being retrofit with the newer sign control panels. According to one Midvale operator, the control panels being installed on the NABIs is more advanced than the ones on the Neoplan artic, ElDorado, and New Flyer fleets. The new panels are being installed as part of the communications system upgrade to the new Computer Aided Radio Dispatch (CARD) system that SEPTA has needed since the end of the first Bush administration.
The new system is part of the reason that SEPTA is going to a four-digit block system which began in February at most depots and in April at Frontier. The block number system, once it's in full effect, will display a four-digit block on all artics, ElDorados, and New Flyers; most of the artics and ElDorados at Midvale are starting to display a four digit block. The first digit represents the depot the bus is assigned to: 1xxx = Comly; 2xxx = Frankford; 3xxx = Midvale; 4xxx = Red Arrow; 5xxx = Allegheny; 6xxx = Frontier; 7xxx = Southern; 8xxx = Elmwood; 9xxx = Callowhill.
DART First State has successfully added a similar system on all of their buses within the past year, including the soon to be retired Flxibles. Ironically enough, some of the older DART radios have been installed on some of the Fords operating out of Frontier.
Speaking of DART, it appears that the new NABI standard floor and high floor buses have started to arrive in Wilmington. The high floors will be numbered 501-519 and are model 416.13; the low floors will be numbered 520-563. This means that the days of Flxibles ruling the road in New Castle County are numbered. DART has issued a press release about the new buses, but oddly enough, unlike a couple of years ago when they posted a picture of a Gillig low floor, there are no pictures of the new NABIs.