The St. Joseph City Council approved the purchasing of 15 new 30-foot GILLIG buses, the same company that it purchased nine from last year, for St. Joseph Transit using a rare grant from the federal government.
Last year’s acquisition cost the city about $3.8 million in local money, but a federal grant will cover 70% of the costs from this batch, leaving the city to pay just over $2 million.
“These are very rare for people to get this size of a grant,” Assistant Director of Public Works and Transportation Brady McKinley said. “There’s only two entities in the state of Missouri that got this, St. Joe being one of them and the other one was actually a state organization.”
McKinley said the city applies for this grant every year hoping to get buses for less, but the money is usually reserved for larger cities across the country. He said he likely will not see a grant of this size for bus purchases in St. Joseph again in his career. He also said bringing in 15 new buses while having unexpected money left over means that service can be increased for some routes.
“We’re expanding our service on our busiest routes,” McKinley said. “We have three very busy routes and normally we have a one-hour head time between buses. On those busiest routes during the peak hours in the morning and the evening, we’re going to go to 30-minute head routes.”
Some of the old buses will be kept for that expansion of services and some will be kept for spare parts. The rest will be sold and the money will be rolled back into the transit fund.