CHICAGO (CBS) — The CTA is about to spend $185 million to renovate more than half of its bus fleet.

The buses, built by New Flyer Industries, are seven years old. CTA spokesman Brian Steele said most of the 1,029 buses have 250,000 miles on their odometers. He said they are growing tired and dirty.

“It is a nearly complete rebuild of the bus,” said CTA spokesman Brian Steele.

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“The engine, the transmission, the suspension components, the interior and the exterior (will be rebuilt). So they are essentially getting a new bus through this process.”

Steele said the contracts, for $74.4 million and $88.1 million, essentially call for top-to-bottom reconstruction at only a fraction of the cost of a new bus. Six buses a week will be rebuilt, beginning next spring.

Ironically, the overhaul contracts won CTA board approval the same day the board voted to scrap 226 accordion-style buses, built by North American Bus Industries (NABI) beginning in 2003 and withdrawn from service in early 2009 following discovery of cracks in the metal housing for the “accordion” section.

They have sat in dead storage since then as CTA pursued legal action against NABI.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) says the average lifespan of a transit bus is between 12 and 16 years.

The scrap sale will yield the cash-strapped agency $1.1 million.

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