By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY - Every year, St. Lucie County receives money from the government to assist with the purchase of buses that help ferry the residents of the county to their destinations.
This year, with help from a grant, 12 brand-new buses will hit St. Lucie County roads.
The State of Good Repair grant completely funded the purchase of the new buses, which cost approximately $4.5 million. The grant did not need to be matched with local dollars, so the buses came at no cost to residents.
"Each year we receive allocation to purchase a new bus," said Corine Williams, a coordinator with St. Lucie County. "But this year we applied for the grant from the Federal Transit Administration and were successful."
The buses will be used by Community Transit, a division of the Council on Aging of St. Lucie, and run on six routes already established in the county.
According to Ms. Williams, approximately 300,000 residents used buses for transportation last year.
"These are the latest buses, ones you would find in Tampa or Orlando," Ms. Williams said.
The buses offer a variety of special features, including wheelchair ramps and spaces, as well as voice announcements during the route.
While the new buses are a bonus to the existing route, the recent economy's downturn can still be felt.
"We still have operational expenses," Ms. Williams said. "We still need to keep all the buses up and running. We also don't have the additional funding needed to run the buses at night or on the weekends."
Currently, the buses run Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The buses that were replaced will be auctioned off by the county at a later date.
For routes and fare information, call (772) 464-8878 or go online to www.treasurecoastconnector.com.