Out with the Old, In with the Used? Sioux City Upgrading Buses

Like an old car, Sioux City's aging bus fleet is facing more repairs, but there's less federal money to buy new ones. That lack of help is why the city is buying used buses to replace four that are about to kick the bucket.

If you couldn't tell by the retro-colored stripes or the nifty 80's-style lettering, some of the Sioux City's buses are 25-years-old.

So it's no wonder Sioux City Public Transit is looking to upgrade.

"This bus that we're on is one of the ones that we will replace, and it's from 1988. As you look around you can tell that not everything is brand new and works as it once did," said Mike Collett, Sioux City's Public Transit Manager, as he showed off an aging bus.

The city says the older these buses are the more maintenance they need so it decided out with the old and in with the used.

That's right - used.

Federal funding for public transit ran a bit short this year, leaving cities like Sioux City and other smaller transit systems dividing roughly $1 million. The larger cities like Des Moines get direct money for bus replacement.

"They have a point system right now. All the transit agencies are on somewhat of a level playing field right now because they get points based on age and miles. So the more they're used, the more points they get and they go up the chain for replacement. It is kind of a level playing field," said Collett. "If you're a smaller sitting you're going to use it less so you get less points and that's how the system is today."

A new bus is close to $400,000 - not exactly cheap.

The 4 used buses are significantly newer - only 13-years-old with upgraded wheelchair lifts.
But these replacements aren't the first and certainly won't be the last.

"The legislation that's in place is a two-year legislation and we're in year two of that, so we'll find out in the next year if this is going to be the norm going forward or get creative like we have with these and update the fleet fiscally responsibly and provide a better bus on the street," said Collett.

The City says you could see these used buses as soon as next week. The four older buses will be auctioned off by the city October 12th at the Central Maintenance Garage.