While state funding for public transportation has been declining annually for almost two decades and the MCO sales tax cut for transit systems and counties statewide is now a reality, Laketran recently received good news announcing that it will receive $970,536 through the 2018 Ohio Department of Transportation’s Ohio Transit Preservation Partnership Program (OTP3).
According to the ODOT website, the OTP3 is a discretionary program and projects are selected on a competitive basis with an emphasis on preservation. Preservation is defined as the process of working to maintain, sustain, or keep in a good sound state the transit systems in Ohio. The OTP3 priority is preservation of public transit services with an emphasis on replacement vehicles.
Laketran will use the funding to purchase eight propane Dial-a-Ride buses, doubling its alternative fueled fleet size. General Manager Ben Capelle said Laketran has an aggressive goal to replace 14 buses a year and will continue to look for additional capital funding.
“The more buses we have operating on propane, the more we reduce our fuel costs,” shared Ben Capelle general manager of Laketran. “Federal funding for vehicle replacement is becoming more difficult to come by and we appreciate ODOT’s initiative to allocate funding to keep our rolling stock in good condition.”
The first of Laketran’s propane buses will be in operation next month, including a more efficient eight passenger van designed to accommodate the more mobile senior population, which has contributed to a 14 percent increase in the agency’s Dial-a-Ride ridership over the past three years.
“We have been testing the new fleet and training drivers and mechanics. We’re excited to have them on the road in the next month and start to see what the customers think of them,” explained Capelle.
At the October 23rd board meeting, the Laketran board saw the newest vehicle added to Laketran’s Dial-a-Ride fleet, a Turtle Top VT3 that is built on a Ford Transit cutaway. The accessible eight passenger van is equipped with a wheelchair lift, safety cameras, electronic fare box, GPS-enabled automatic vehicle locators, plus radios and rangers.
“This is the kind of transit investment we’re hoping to see more of from the state,” explained Laketran board president Brian Falkowski. “Laketran and Lake County residents will benefit from this investment as our Dial-a-Ride fleet becomes more efficient and environmentally friendly.”
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