Jan. 19--Lt. Gov. John Walsh and Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Matt Vincent were at the Butte Transit Station Saturday morning to roll out five new city buses.
The buses, which are 29-foot Gillig Low Floor Heavy Duty Transit buses, cost more than $1.8 million. The city paid 20 percent of that total, for a contribution of $344,000. The remainder of the money came from a competitive Federal Transit Administration "State of Good Repair" grant, which the Montana Department of Transportation applied for on behalf of Butte.
The new buses will replace five older ones, said Butte Transit Division Director Gary Keeler. The old buses each have more than 375,000 miles on them and have been in service for 12 years.
Walsh and Vincent inspected the new buses Saturday, looking at the interiors of the vehicles and at the bicycle racks on the front of the buses, which can each hold two bikes. The buses are black and copper, and are emblazoned with the words "Copper City Connection."
"It is imperative that we continue to invest in our infrastructure at the local, state and federal levels," Walsh said. "This is a big shot in the arm for the city of Butte. I want to congratulate the leadership of Butte for having the vision and the execution. It's one thing to have the vision; it's another to bring these buses to the city of Butte."
The buses will be in service to the city for
12 years and can seat
26 passengers, with more room for standing passengers. All of the new buses are handicap accessible. Each of the buses has four surveillance cameras for safety.
"They're the Cadillacs of buses," said Audrey Allums, the Montana Department of Transportation bureau chief for grants. "We wanted (Butte) to have good quality, energy efficient, long-lasting buses. The buses (Butte) had were aging and were costing
the city to keep them maintained. This system provides 129,000 rides a year and needed a new fleet to provide quality service."
The city is searching for another municipality in Montana to donate the old buses to as backup buses for a fleet.
"They're old, but they're still pretty solid buses," Keeler said.
The Butte bus system currently provides every-half hour service to Harrison Avenue and the uptown business district, and hourly service elsewhere in the city.
Copyright 2014 - The Montana Standard, Butte