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Published: Thursday, 6/11/2009

U.S. releases $8.5M to TARTAfor 39 buses, facility repairs


The Toledo Area Transit Authority ordered 39 new buses this spring and now it has the money to pay for them.

The Federal Transit Administration yesterday formally released slightly more than $8.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to the transit agency, most of it to be used for vehicle purchases, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced.

James Gee, TARTA s general manager, said his agency anticipated the stimulus grant and ordered the buses ahead of time in hopes of getting a jump on production, because other transit agencies are likely to order vehicles with their share of the same funds.

About $1 million of the grant will be used for improvements at TARTA s bus garage on West Central Avenue, including a new bus wash rack, heating and air conditioning, and paving and concrete repair.

In April, the TARTA board of trustees approved buying 19 35-foot El Dorado transit buses costing $342,000 each, for a total of $6,498,000.

Of that, $5,850,000 will come from the stimulus funds, and the balance will come from other grant sources, Mr. Gee said.

The buses will be bought through Minnesota s state cooperative purchasing program, of which TARTA is a member; Mr. Gee said Ohio does not offer cooperative purchasing for transit buses.

In May, transit trustees approved buying 10 G4500 Goshen Coach minibuses and 11 G3500 Goshen Coach minibuses, also through the Minnesota co-op program.

The first 10 buses cost $105,000 each and will be used on Call-A-Ride and regular TARTA routes, and the latter 11 cost $75,000 each and will be assigned to the Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service.

The total cost for the minibuses is $1,875,000, all to be covered by stimulus money.

Cooperative purchasing was used for the bus orders because a traditional bid-advertising process would take too long to meet federal deadlines for the stimulus funds, Mr. Gee told the transit board last month.

The small buses are expected to be delivered by September, while the 35-foot buses are scheduled to arrive early next year.

The latter group will replace TARTA buses that are 19 years old and have an average of 600,000 miles on their odometers, Mr. Gee said.

The old buses will be salvaged for internal components such as seats and fareboxes and will be sold for scrap after their replacements arrive, he said.

Contact David Patch at:dpatch@theblade.comor 419-724-6094.

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