The Yuba-Sutter Transit Board of Directors unanimously approved the replacement of six 2014 model passenger buses during its Thursday meeting, according to executive director Keith Martin.
The new buses will provide service for Dial-A-Ride and the rural routes. Martin said they can fill on fixed routes if necessary as supplemental service. Yuba-Sutter Transit has 16 buses in the Dial-A-Ride fleet and 10 of them are 2019 models. The new buses carry 12-14 passengers compared to the 16-passenger buses, but Martin said the new buses provide a significant improvement. The replacement buses will have a lower floor, which makes them easier for passengers to board from the curb. The old buses had four-step stairs to get onboard.
“It’s a much more passenger friendly design and style,” Martin said.
The new buses are also smaller and better able to maneuver the parking lots and other pickup locations. The goal is to have the new buses in service in the summer of 2022. Martin said that timeline could be delayed depending on state and federal approvals.
Each bus costs $160,000 for a six-bus total of $960,000. The purchase will be financed with a combination of currently available funding from two federal sources over three years to be matched with approximately $140,000 in State Transit Assistance funds, according to a staff report.
In other business:
– Directors received a budget report on the first quarter of fiscal year 2022. Yuba-Sutter Transit’s operating budget of $8,311,200 represented a 4.8 percent increase over the budgeted amount for fiscal year 2021. First quarter operating expenses for the current fiscal year were 23.2 percent of the adopted budget.
“We’re operating under budget, which is a good thing,” Martin said.
Part of that is the agency operating fewer services hours than what was budgeted given an expected increase in ridership. He said it’s too early to tell whether Yuba-Sutter Transit will be under budget for the entire fiscal year, but if there are additional funds available, they will be rolled over into the next year depending on the funding source. Martin said significant funding sources include federal and local sources as well as passenger fares.
– Yuba-Sutter Transit provided all 22 fixed route buses to service the Sikh Parade on Nov. 7. Martin said the whole day went smoothly. He said the agency has provided the service at this scale for more than 10 years. Ridership was down from previous years, but that meant wait times weren’t as long. Wait times for buses have been up to 30 minutes in the past. He said this year, waits were a few minutes. Despite fewer riders, there were standing loads on most buses. Martin said Yuba-Sutter Transit completed approximately 230 service hours on Sunday.
“It’s pretty intense,” Martin said.
– Yuba-Sutter Transit will be offering free rides on its local fixed routes and rural routes everyday this week and from Dec. 20-31. Dial-A-Ride and Sacramento Commuter services will maintain normal fares during those two periods.