Re­gional tran­sit provider re­builds

Di­rec­tor ex­pect­ing to buy eight buses for about $1 mil­lion by De­cem­ber

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - DAN HOLTMEYER

SPRING­DALE — Ozark Re­gional Tran­sit will be­gin re­plac­ing its de­stroyed bus fleet by the end of the year, the ser­vice’s di­rec­tor said Wed­nes­day.

Di­rec­tor Joel Gard­ner told his board he ex­pects to buy eight medium-sized buses by De­cem­ber for about $1 mil­lion, mostly from fed­eral grants. The pub­lic tran­sit provider lost 20 buses out of two dozen over­all in a wind­whipped fire in early Jan­uary and has re­lied on loaner ve­hi­cles from other com­pa­nies around the coun­try to keep run­ning.

The ser­vice hasn’t fully re­cov­ered from the event but is mak­ing progress, ac­cord­ing to data pre­sented Wed­nes­day. Daily rid­er­ship fell from about 1,200 pas­sen­gers at the be­gin­ning of the year to about 850 but has since made up most of the gap.

“We’re push­ing for­ward ev­ery day,” Gard­ner said.

ORT pro­vides a dozen com­muter and all-pur­pose routes and a pick-up ser­vice for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties through­out Ben­ton and Wash­ing­ton coun­ties. Fed­eral, county and city money and fees cover most of its rev­enue, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Mindy Camp­bell said.

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