West Texas Opportunities gets $2 million for rural transit

December 22, 2018

During its December meeting, the Texas Transportation Commission approved $20 million in federal transit funding that will help rural transit agencies across the state replace 271 buses.

For Texas Department of Transportation’s Odessa District, West Texas Opportunities will receive $2,091,500 funds to purchase 33 vehicles — 28 Adaptive Driving Access vans and five small shuttle buses.

Karen Faulkner, West Texas Opportunities transportation director, said this funding will help people with disabilities and the elderly have an opportunity to accomplish day-to-day tasks.

“It’s a quality of life issue for many of our passengers,” Faulkner said. “They go get groceries. They go visit a friend. They go to the doctor. They generally don’t have that kind of automobile in their household and they generally don’t have a friend with that kind of automobile. Many times, we are their only resource for going anywhere.”

The cost for each vehicle can range between $50,000 and $60,000. The reason for the heightened cost is to make each vehicle wheelchair accessible.

Faulkner said after the purchase request is submitted it will take West Texas Opportunities about three months to receive the ADA vans. The small shuttle buses take between six to eight months as the company has to build those vehicles from the ground up.

“The vehicles will be purchased pretty close together depending on availability of the manufacturer,” Faulkner said. “The vans are typically very quick. A shuttle bus takes longer, because they won’t start building it until you order them.”

The 33 vehicles that are expected to be added in 2019 will help cover 44,000 square miles of the Odessa district.

In an email, Faulkner said the new editions will replace the vehicles that are at least 10 years old or have very high mileage.

“This won’t increase the size of our fleet, it will just maintain the state of good repair of our fleet,” Faulkner said.

West Texas Opportunities received the largest funding from the list of 35 public transportation providers, a TxDOT news release stated. Eight other providers received more than $1 million with the second largest funding going to the Alamo Area Council of Governments, which covers San Antonio, New Braunfels and Schertz.

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