Champaign and Logan county public transit agencies will be getting federal dollars to replace a few buses.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding $6,691,634 to the Ohio Department of Transportation to purchase 112 replacement vehicles for Ohio’s rural transit providers, according to a press release from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). The funding is through a competitive grant program, in which 90 percent is paid by the federal government and 10 percent is matched by the entity, Financial Manager and Programs Coordinator Lori Spencer of the Ohio Department of Transportation said.
“In rural Ohio, public transportation gives people a level of mobility that many of us take for granted. Reliable transit service takes Ohioans to work, connects people with their doctors, and helps seniors get to the grocery store,” Brown said. “Replacing outdated buses and vans with new, modern vehicles will help ensure that Ohio’s rural communities have access to safe and reliable public transit.”
Champaign Transit provides public transportation to Champaign County. RTC Industries provides public transportation in Logan County.
Champaign Transit System will be awarded an estimated $126,549 for three vehicles. RTC Industries will receive an estimated $171,747 for five vehicles, Spencer said. It will take months for the replacement buses to be received, as they must be ordered and the funding must be released to the agencies.
The Ohio Department of Transportation seeks the grant dollars on behalf of rural transit agencies in the state, ODOT Office of Transit Administrator Chuck Dyer said. The agencies are designated by county commissioners as providing public transportation to county residents.
Large and small urban public transit systems can apply for the funds directly, Spencer added.
The grant funds are not received every year. They are part of the federal government’s discretionary spending, Spencer said. The last time a similar grant was received was several years ago, she said.
Spencer said the funds are needed, as some of the vehicles to be replaced have over 300,000 miles. The average vehicle has 190,000 miles, she said.
“We realize how important transit is, especially in these rural areas where people depend on it so much. To leverage this kind of effort to help those folks is huge,” ODOT Press Secretary Matt Bruning said.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.