Earlier this week we reported fares for the Topeka transit buses will increase form a $1.00 to a $1.25, now it appears there are more concerns facing the transit than just higher gas prices pushing higher fares.
While there are a number of concerns that relate to funding also a large concern is the aging fleet of buses, 41 in fact will be eligible to retire in 18 months.
Many here in the city depend on the Topeka Transit system, "I ride the buses all the time, a few times a day to get where I'm going," Tanner McClelland said from the bus station on Quincy.
For Waneytta Ortiz the bus system means everything without the bus she says she would never leave her house, "It means I get a chance to get out. I have no family, I depend on it to get my grocery shopping, I depend on it just to get back and fourth from church. I don't know what I would do without it."
What these people don't know is that the majority of the buses they ride will soon be eligible to retire.
"Without replacement of those buses, the fuel escalation charges and maintenance alone its just going to be, I don’t know if we will be bale to replace the money its going to cost to repair buses," Janlyn Nesbett-Tucker with the Transit Authority admitted Thursday. She went on to say that if they had to replace buses today they would only be able to replace one.
1 out of 41, Nesbett-Tucker says the money just isn't there. So where does the Topeka Transit Authority get their money? Well most we spoke with thought from fares in actuality half comes from a city levy, nearly the other half from federal dollars.
Nesbett-Tucker says there are no talks that the fleet will stop service, "We just continue to run business as usual and hope that we will be able to get more money for bus replacement for the earmark process."
An increase in federal earmarks would be required for the fleet to begin the replacement process something that Nancy Boyda is aware of, "Topeka Transit serves a major role in uniting the city of
Topeka and making transportation accessible to all. Last year my office secured $294,000 for Topeka Transit fleet replacement, and I am continuing to work alongside Senators Roberts and Brownback to serve Topeka's transportation needs," Boyda said Thursday evening.
If the transit is able to get more federal funding they say goals they have are to first get attention to the older buses, plus begin running busses past 6PM and perhaps even on Sundays.