LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Lake Transit Authority has received a state funding allocation to assist it with purchasing new buses for its fleet.
The California Transportation Commission last week allocated the agency $718,000 to purchase five diesel-powered buses.
The commission distributed a total of $64 million to 43 projects that will reduce traffic congestion and repair highways, local streets, and bridges.
“We are putting transportation dollars to work supporting jobs and making improvements that will benefit Californians now and for decades to come,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.
The allocations include $42 million from Proposition 1B, a transportation bond approved by voters in 2006, the commission reported.
In total, approximately $14.7 billion in Proposition 1B funds have been distributed statewide, according to the commission. The remaining allocations of $22 million came from assorted transportation accounts funded by state and federal dollars.
Mark Wall, Lake Transit Authority general manager, said they plan to purchase five cleaner burning diesel buses – which he said run more efficiently than gas-powered buses – using the state allocation, which they applied for six years ago.
He said the goal is to combine the $718,000 with $1.3 million in Proposition 1D funds that Lake Transit previously received to purchase heavy duty buses, which he said will hold up better, provide a better ride for passengers and require less maintenance.
The heavy duty buses are what would be seen in larger cities. The buses currently used in the county are considered medium duty, with a seven-year, 200,000 mile lifespan, compared to the 12 years and 400,000 miles possible with heavy duty vehicles, which is important because the buses run a lot of miles in Lake County, he said.
Wall said Lake Transit is part of a consortium being run by the Central Contra Costa Transit Authority, which is working on behalf of about 12 transit agencies to get bids on the buses.
Once the bid has been awarded, Wall said Lake Transit can ask the winning contractor to test some of their buses.
The biggest buses Lake Transit currently has are about 30 feet long. Wall said they would like to go up a size, to 35 feet, in order to have more room for passengers.
That's important, because Wall said Lake Transit's ridership has continued to expand.
“Ridership is looking very good,” he said. “It is continuing to grow.”
Lake Transit also is planning to expand its evening service hours, Wall said.
He said it will take about a year and a half to two years to get the new buses in service. In the meantime, they may buy some new medium duty buses to help meet the immediate ridership needs.
Lake Transit's fleet currently has 23 buses. With the addition of the new, heavy duty vehicles, Wall said they should be stocked up on buses.
He said Lake Transit will be doing a new transit development plan this year, and that will set the direction for how they grow and if they need to add any more vehicles in the future.
Other projects around the North Coast that received funds from the commission last week included $20,000 for the construction of sidewalks and bike lanes on School Road between Fisher Road and Salmon Avenue in McKinleyville in Humboldt County.
Email Elizabeth Larson at [email protected] . Follow her on Twitter, @ERLarson, or Lake County News, @LakeCoNews.