February 17, 2003

TCAT Purchases Nine New Low Floor Busses

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Tompkins County Area Transit (TCAT) has purchased nine new buses that have started operating recently. The new buses, produced by New Flyer Bus Industries, cost $282,321 per bus. The buses, which are all low floor models, will replace nine older buses. The total cost of all nine is over $2.5 million.

“Buses are replaced on a 12 year cycle, or when the buses reach half a million miles,” Rod Ghearing, general manager of TCAT, said. He noted that the nine buses being replaced were not handicap accessible and “with these nine, now every bus that is scheduled to go into service on a given day is accessible.”

“I think that making public transportation handicap accessible is a wonderful idea, and everyone benefits from it,” said Peggy Walbridge ’74, college disability representative for the College of Arts and Sciences. “But I think that the main problem will be paying for it.”

According to Ghearing, another major appeal of the low floor model buses is the greater passenger capacity.

Ghearing noted several factors went into choosing what routes the new buses should go on.

“We look at two factors, passenger load, because the new buses have more passenger capacity, and we also look at the number of times that the lift was used.” Ghearing said. “[We] try to put these on routes with a lot of lift usage, because a low floor ramp is much easier to get on than a lift. When we first got the flat floor buses, we placed it on route 15, where there were several retirement homes. The first low floor bus, purchased in fall of 2001 was put on route 81 [Cornell’s A Lot to B Lot] because of space issues.”

Funding for the buses came from several sources. According to Ghearing, eighty percent of the money came from the federal government. These funds were secured from Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D — NY). Ten percent came from the state of New York, and the remaining ten percent comes from local sources.

“Cornell contributes a third of the local dollars,” Ghearing said of the University’s funding.

However, Cornell does not pay as each new bus is added.

“A certain part of Cornell’s budget goes to TCAT,” Diane Staub, Cornell Communication & Marketing, said. “The city and the county are the other [contributors].”

The new buses will also have bicycle racks for route 10 (Ithaca Commons to Cornell), allowing both the trolleys and regular buses to carry bicycles.

Archived article by David Hillis