Razorback Transit benefits from stimulus funding

Posted on April 13, 2009

[IMAGE]RazorbackTransit-full.jpg[/IMAGE]Although few university transit systems will be able to benefit directly from the federal stimulus funds, Razorback Transit at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, is an exception.

“We are the recipient of FTA 5307 operating funds each year, so we were automatically included in the stimulus funding as an existing FTA recipient,” said Mike Seither, associate director of Razorback Transit.

Seither said the transit program is receiving $1.26 million in stimulus funding, most of which will be spent to procure three new buses. He said the buses will cost about $332,000 each, for a total of $996,000.

“The bus cost may change because of 2010 EPA engine requirements,” Seither added. “Right now we can’t seem to find any 2009 engines to put into those buses, so the cost may escalate from $15,000 to $25,000 per bus.”

Seither said the remaining stimulus money will be used for a variety of qualifying investments, including facility refurbishment ($135,000), maintenance department upgrades ($40,000), paratransit equipment and software ($50,000), ADA refurbishment ($15,000), service truck conversion ($5,000), computer equipment and software ($15,000) and bus shelter upgrades ($6,000).

Meanwhile, the University of Wisconsin in Madison is indirectly benefiting from a local infusion of stimulus funding.

“The university encouraged the city of Madison to use transportation stimulus funding to purchase diesel-electric hybrids instead of diesel buses,” said Gordon Graham, the university’s transportation administrator. “Many Metro Transit routes are on campus or through campus, so we get some benefit even though we are not a designated recipient.”

Chuck Kamp, general manager of Metro Transit, said about $9 million of the $9.6 million in stimulus funding allocated to the transit system will be used to purchase 18 hybrid buses. “The proposal requires approval by the City and the Madison Metropolitan Area Planning Organization,” he said.

Kamp said Metro Transit is in the middle of a five-year bus procurement contract with Gillig Corp. that allows options to purchase additional hybrid buses. “Metro currently has five hybrid buses that are achieving about 30 percent improvements in fuel economy and are being well received by bus passengers and pedestrians alike for a notably quieter ride,” he said.



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