New buses will improve ridership for Springfield public transit passengers

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Public transportation in Springfield is getting a big boost thanks to federal funding.

City Utilities is replacing a huge portion of their fleet with modern buses.

"We knew that we had a significant need," said Kelly Turner, Director of Transit for City Utilities.

Many other public transit systems across the country have a need too. For each agency, proving that need to the Federal Transportation Administration wouldn't be easy.

"We knew we had a good story to tell. We knew we had a good application. But there was only about $200 million available nationwide and they received over a billion dollars in requests," explained Turner.

City Utilities was given $3.8 million to spend on new buses. The organization had to come up with an additional 20 percent to fund the purchase of eleven buses. This will help to keep the transit system going.

"Of the eleven buses we are replacing, nine of them were 2000 model that were nearing 900 thousand miles," said Turner.

City buses are only supposed to be in service for about 10 years or 350,000 miles. CU mechanics have gone to great lengths to keep them running and as reliable as possible.

The new buses will improve service for riders.

"We should have fewer breakdowns. It should help us stay on time better," said Turner.

New, modern amenities like improved wheelchair areas and restraints, a driver-navigation safety system and on-board, enhanced, security systems will improve driver and passenger safety.

There's a bonus for tech-savvy riders, USB charging ports will be installed in the new buses.

"We hope that as both our customers that currently ride the bus and potential future customers look at the assets we have look at the buses that we have, the technology and conveniences that we have that it will incentivize and encourage people to ride the bus," said Turner.

The cost for a brand-new bus is around $400,000.

Three of the new models are already rolling around town.

City Utilities hopes to have the remaining eight on the roads by summer.