Transit Authority receives buses

PARKERSBURG – Quiet, easy to operate and requires less maintenance, say drivers and passengers of the Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority’s new buses.

The authority received 12 new buses in the last six weeks, transit authority General Manager Tim Thomas said. The last two arrived within the last few weeks, with the first five being obtained by transit authority workers in person to get them on the road as soon as possible, he said.

When he became general manager in November 2010, among the first tasks Thomas tackled was new buses.

“They were $7,000 a bus is what it came down to,” he said. “We went down the avenue of what would best fit us.”

Transit officials went through a process to find good, affordable buses, Thomas said.

“The new buses are doing well,” he said. “We’re hoping that some, soon, can run on natural gas.”

The buses will never be able to run on electricity and electric buses will be too expensive, Thomas said. The old buses ran on diesel fuel and new ones run on gasoline.

“They’re quiet, drivers like them,” he said. “The local community has been very positive about them.”

Jason Terrell said he rides the bus every day to West Virginia University at Parkersburg for class.

“(The new buses) take me where I need to go,” he said. “I’m not really picky.”

Other passengers said the new buses are quieter, although the driver is seated lower and riders can no longer see out of the front window. A woman said the stairs are steeper, but otherwise she has no problem with the buse.

Ron Eakins has been a bus driver with the transit authority for a little more than three years. The new buses have worked well, so far, he said.

“I like the new ones better because they don’t break down,” he said. “The transmissions were always going out (of the old buses); there were just a variety of problems.”

Another benefit is drivers can have more personal contact with passengers, Eakins said

“When you open the door the passengers are right there in your face so you can’t help but greet them,” he said. “They’re a lot quieter so you can relate more with the passengers.”

A bus driver for about two and a half years, Randy Balsley said the new bus is much more comfortable for him. The biggest complaint so far is from a rider who couldn’t see out of the front windshield, he said.

“It’s been less maintenance so far,” he said of the Easy Rider buses. “The seats are a lot more comfortable and they are easier to steer.”

The suspension is better and they ride a lot easier, he said.

The transit authority believes the new buses will save money, Thomas said.

“How much they were compared to the diesel ones, we will be making more money,” he said. “The fuel is cheaper, the type of bus takes less oil and parts are not as expensive.”