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WRTA to buy 52 new buses over five years

Published: Thu, February 28, 2013 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken



The local transit authority has authorized an estimated $19.7 million for replacement buses over the next five years.

Trustees of the Western Reserve Transit Authority on Wednesday authorized buying up to 48 new full-size, fixed-route buses and four new para-transit buses, all to replace vehicles to be retired from the authority’s fleet.

Eighty percent of the cost of the regular route buses, estimated to cost about $400,000 each, will be paid by Federal Transit Administration funds, and 20 percent from local sales-tax money.

The authority will solicit bids for the regular route buses to be purchased over the next five years.

The authority’s countywide quarter-percent sales tax, first approved in 2008 and renewed last year, generated $7.7 million in revenue for the authority last year, compared with $7.5 million in 2011 and $6.9 million in 2010, according to figures released at the trustee meeting.

The para-transit buses, estimated to cost about $129,000 each, would be purchased through a state cooperative purchasing program and paid for by grant money, local levy funds and fare-box revenues. The smaller para-transit buses are used for prearranged, door-to-door transportation of seniors and disabled people.

“We’re looking at the most-economical way to serve the community and be frugal with the tax dollars,” said John Brown III, trustee board president.

After the board acted, James J. Ferraro, authority executive director, said he hopes WRTA can buy the para-transit buses within the next four to six months.

The average age of full-size buses in the current fleet is 12 years, which is the average life of an urban mass-transit bus, said Marianne Vaughn, WRTA finance director.

“The smaller buses do not have the life that the full-sized buses have. There are certain routes that pick up more people than a smaller bus can carry. The primary cost of operating a bus is the [compensation of the] operator,” Vaughn said, explaining why the authority wants to buy so many full-size buses.

The new full-size buses, seating 30 to 35 passengers each, could be a combination of diesel-fueled, natural gas-fueled and hybrid buses, Vaughn said. Those new buses would be fully wheelchair accessible, she said.

If the authority buys natural gas-fueled buses, it would install a compressed natural-gas fueling station at its garage at 604 Mahoning Ave. at a cost up to $1.5 million, and that CNG fueling station might also be open to the public, Ferraro said.

Vaughn said the authority may have a private company as a partner in building such a facility.

All full-sized buses in the authority’s fleet are diesel-fueled, and Ferraro said the authority now pays $3.12 per gallon for this fuel.

Overall, January 2013 WRTA ridership was 8 percent above that of January 2012, including a 20-percent gain in senior-citizen ridership and a 1-percent gain in student ridership, Ferraro said. Almost 600 more people daily rode WRTA buses in January 2013 than in January 2012, he said.

Senior citizens accounted for 36 percent of January 2013 WRTA ridership, up from 32 percent in January 2012, Ferraro said.


1dmacker(486 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

It would be more practical if they purchased vans.
I have rarely seen a full sized WRTA bus with over a few riders. Does anybody ever monitor this service to see if it is worth the tax payer money spent.

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2redeye1(5512 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Once again here's a Gov't entity that letting money burn a hole in its pocket, so they just have to waste it. Hey That's sounds just Obamacomics Spend spend spend and spend some more. So that's where they get their ideas

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3NoBS(2647 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

From the WRTA's site, there are 15 fixed routes. Why on earth they need that many buses is beyond me.

They could run 3 buses on every route and still have spares.

What a waste of our money.

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4conservative4you(44 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

the WRTA is like the Library, spending millions on unnecssary/wasteful projects, when there are other local government entities like schools, who are struggling for funding; spend the millions on educating our young people, or on technology, where it will reap benefits

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5peggygurney(408 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

IMO we need more routes than what we have, and more buses to fill the routes. More to the point, we need more DIRECT routes. The average bus rider has to make 3+ transfers to get where they need to go. My elderly mother, who lives on the north side of Youngstown, has to make 5 (yes FIVE) transfers to get to her doctor on 224 near Tippecanoe. That's just ONE way. She has to do the same thing coming home. So a trip to the doctor, for her, typically takes almost an entire day. It is for THIS reason, that you see so few riders on these buses. It's ridiculous. If we had DIRECT routes, a LOT more people would use our bus system, I can almost guarantee it.

Further, we need buses that run 24 hours per day. I work at night, midnight shift. The only way I can get there is my car, because there are no buses. But with the price of gas going up and up, I can't afford to fill up my tank! Get a few buses running 24/7 and I'll gladly park my car and use the bus.

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6conservative4you(44 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

peggygurney, i appreciate your comments, but it would be more cost efficient for the WRTA to purchase vans, than $multi-million buses to haul a couple of people from A to B, that is the problem with government, it is always overkill, rather than common sense

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7city_resident(528 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

@ conservative4you, it would be more cost efficient to improve service so that the available capacity is even more heavily used. On the routes I ride regularly, a van would simply be too small, 80% of the time. And, a van would never last 12 years, like the big buses can.

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8grg019(34 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Maybe you are too conservative.... Vans will be a waste rather than larger busses. There are many more than just a couple people who ride. You probably wont even get on a bus this is why you dont know whats really goin on. If you dont attend the library its on you, but there are folks who do! The same goes with riders. If you dont ride so what, there are people who do! And there is where YOU should use "COMMON SENSE"! BTW there is plenty of technology in schools. If the kids dont wanna learn then hey... THATS ON THEM!

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