BARTA might be able to save some money by shopping for buses with higher price tags.
The agency is hoping to garner a federal grant that would cover the cost difference between buying regular buses and springing for hybrids.
That means BARTA would get a hybrid without spending more for it and then collect the savings that comes with increasing fuel economy by about 40 percent.
"It helps us stretch the other federal dollars that we already get that we could then apply to other things," said David W. Kilmer, BARTA executive director.
The agency's board of directors gave Kilmer the OK on Monday to apply for the grant.
The grant program, aimed at curbing air pollution by outfitting bus agencies with hybrids, has about $23 million for the whole country, Kilmer said, so there's no guarantee BARTA would get the $700,000 it's looking for.
But to boost its chances, the agency is teaming with Lancaster's Red Rose Transit Authority, which Kilmer also heads, for a joint grant request.
"I figure we might do better if it's two systems going together," Kilmer said.
If the grant comes through, BARTA would look to buy between five and seven buses — depending on how much money it gets — that would be due for replacement anyway, he said.
Fuel-efficient buses are especially helpful for public agencies, Kilmer said, because they reduce operation costs, which are tough to find funding for.
There are grants available to buy buses, but finding money to fill the gas tank and pay the driver is a different story.
Contact Liam Migdail-Smith: 610-371-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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