03/04/14 — Grant to fund five new buses

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Grant to fund five new buses

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on March 4, 2014 1:46 PM

The GATEWAY transportation system is seeking a grant to help buy five new buses in the next fiscal year.

The Goldsboro City Council recently gave GATEWAY Executive Director Lynn Lamberth permission to seek the grant.

The five new buses are expected to cost $1.3 million, leaving the city responsible for a 20 percent match of $265,600.

Ms. Lamberth said the state might match half of the city's portion of the cost, bringing the local money needed down to $130,000.

The grant, offered through the Federal Transit Administration, is for replacing buses that meet a 150,000-mile threshold.

The five buses Ms. Lamberth is seeking to replace have close to 300,000 miles on them each, she told Council members.

Ms Lamberth plans to seek funding for three 30-foot, low-floor buses, one 25-foot, low-floor bus and a trolley bus that was made to look like a train car.

She said the new buses would help to give the system an improved reputation with the new GATEWAY bus transfer facility planned for Carolina Street next to Union Station.

"I think it's really great timing. The new buses would help us rebrand and realign our fleet as we move forward," Ms. Lamberth said. "This will help the system move into a different light."

During a City Council work session, Councilman Gene Aycock asked Ms. Lamberth if she had conducted a ridership study to back up the bus request, and if the buses would serve the program as it was or how it needed to be in the future.

Ms. Lamberth said she would provide that information and that an approval that night only allowed her to apply. The number and type of buses could be adjusted.

"If you can spend 10 cents to get 90 cents back you would be crazy not to," Aycock said. "And the buses need to be replaced at some point anyway."

The city also has three 35-foot buses not eligible for replacement through the program.

The deadline for the application passed last Tuesday and Ms. Lamberth expects the application back in about two months.

"Based on past applications I've seen, I expect it to take a couple months before we would hear anything," she said.