People using the public transportation system in Pratt will get to ride in a brand new bus.
The new 2014 bus is an Eldorado model on a Ford chassis. It arrived Wednesday and went on-line Friday. It features 12 seats and space for two wheelchairs, said Tiffany Ailstock, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program director.
The vehicle is white with two horizontal blue stripes and features high backed blue seats. It has retractable restraints for all seats and for wheelchairs. A lift door is available at the rear of the bus for wheelchair access. The seating area features tall, tinted windows.
Two of the seats are designed to accommodate child safety seats. The bus could have been configured to have more seats but if a vehicle has more than 14 seats, the driver has to have a commercial drivers license. The agency didn't need that many seats and they didn't want their drivers to have to get CDLs so they chose a 12-seat configuration.
The cost of the new bus is $54,000. The bus purchase was made available through a Kansas Department of Transportation grant for operating assistance.
The grant pays 80 percent of the cost while the county is responsible for the remaining 20 percent. Ailstock said it takes a long time for the grant to be approved. The application was originally made in November 2012.
"It's quite a process," Ailstock said.
The Council on Aging office operates the bus and it is available for anyone needing a ride.
The bus it replaces is a 2005 with over 141,000 miles and will be up for sale after Jan. 1, 2014 though the Pratt County Clerks office.
"Watch for public notice of the sale," Ailstock said.
This brings to four the number of vehicles available for general public transportation.
Tracy Petz, one of the vehicle drivers said she was excited to get the bus and anxious to take it out. Besides Petz, Jim Norrish and Rose Freitas are also vehicle drivers.
When vehicles are purchased through the Kansas Department of Transportation, they hold a lien on the vehicle until it reaches 100,000 miles. Then it is eligible for replacement and ownership is transferred to the agency that has been using the vehicle.
The agency also has a red raised top van they will eventually sell but it only has 70,000 miles so it will be some time before it is ready to sell. The van gets limited use.
Anyone needing a ride can contact 672-7811 for passenger transport. Cost for transport is 50 cents a trip.
The RSVP office is located in the Pratt Community Center at 619 North Main in Pratt.