The city plans to spend $730,000 to buy 14 new vans for AnchorRides, the public transportation system for people with disabilities.
The vans will replace older vehicles that make up about one fourth of AnchorRides' existing fleet, which has a mix of minivans and larger vehicles.
The new vans are called MV-1s, and they are expressly designed for use by passengers with disabilities -- unlike some vehicles that have to be retrofitted. They're built in Indiana by the same company that builds Humvees.
City transportation officials said that the MV-1 offers several advantages over other vehicles.
Passengers who use wheelchairs sit in the front seat, for example, rather than in the back. And the MV-1s don't stand out, said Paula Kangis, the marketing manager for the city's transportation department.
"Customers enjoy the fact that this vehicle looks more like a standard sedan, and not a specialty vehicle that some perceive highlights their disability," Kangis wrote in an email.
The MV-1s, which cost $52,000 apiece, will be purchased through a city agreement with the state of Washington. Washington's contract for the vehicles complies with procurement rules, city officials said.
The MV-1s are expected to arrive in the middle of this year.
Reach Nathaniel Herz at email@example.com or 257-4311.
By NATHANIEL HERZ