Officials with TAPS Public Transit expect that its latest line of buses will be hitting the streets of Texoma in coming days. Earlier this year, the transit provider announced plans to retire 12 of its aging buses and replace them with 10 newer vehicles that are better equipped for the agency’s needs.
“I anticipate our new vehicles will be on the road within a month,” Transdev General Manager Josh Walker said in late October.
Walker said that nine of the ten vehicles purchased have arrived at TAPS, with the remaining vehicle expected to arrive some time this month. During the interim, Walker said TAPS staff are working to acquire title, tags and other registrations that are needed before the buses can be put into operation.
These buses were purchased through a $700,000 grant offered by the U.S. and Texas Departments of Transportation. Initially, TAPS expected to be able to purchase nine buses, but favorable bids allowed for the purchase of one additional vehicle.
These buses will be among the first added to the fleet since it started efforts to reorganize itself following a financial crisis in 2015 that led to the departure of McKinney and Collin County from the transit service. With these new vehicles, Walker said TAPS is moving to restructure its fleet to better match its service area.
Walker said these new buses will be reduced in size compared to the previous line of buses and will be able to seat 10, down from 18, and carry wheelchairs. Walker previously said the new buses will be better suited for rural roads than the larger vehicles TAPS previous used.
With the new buses on their way to the road, Walker said TAPS has taken the steps necessary to retire 12 buses that had reached the end of their useful life. These buses were purchased between 2008 and 2013 with more than 161,000 miles on the odometer.
Walker said these buses were put up for auction with revenues for each bus ranging from $200 to $12,000 for one vehicle. Walker said he was surprised that this vehicle sold for so much on the secondary market, noting it as an outlier.
Walker said the majority of these funds will be set aside in a separate account and can only be used for future capital projects. However, proceeds from three buses will be free for TAPS to use and will be considered local match funds for future grant requests.
With the last line of buses retired, Walker said he plans to shift focus to about four more vehicles that are ready for retirement. Unlike the last set of retirements, Walker said these include work vehicles, including one that had an engine fail recently.