by Ashley Flynn
Living Well in Wabash County CoA, Inc, will be purchasing two new replacement buses sometime late next year thanks to unused funds from a previous American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant.
The announcement comes after Living Well CEO Beverly Ferry received a phone call from INDOT notifying that 100 percent of the money requested would come from this grant instead of from the 2014 5311 Capital Grant and 20 percent matching grant from the county that Living Well originally requested.
“This came as a complete surprise to the local public transportation system and eliminates the need to find the funds to pay the 20 percent matching funds,” said Ferry in a press release.
Living Well in Wabash County is the local operator contracted by the county to run Wabash County Transportation. County Commissioners signed the contract for the buses at the Nov. 25 commissioners meeting. They expect to have the new buses between late fall of 2014 and mid-winter 2015.
“It is important to keep in mind that we try to get 250,000 to 300,000 miles out of each vehicle in the fleet. When we apply for a vehicle through INDOT, we are doing so knowing that by the time the new vehicle arrives as a replacement, the old vehicle is often past time to remove from service. We try to time it so that we will not have to make expensive repairs to the vehicle to keep it in the fleet, but that is not always possible,” Ferry said in a letter to the commissioners.
Formerly Wabash County Council on Again, Living Well has been in the transportation business since 1974. In recent years, the system has seen a dramatic rise in the need for rides. In 2012 the system provided more than 45,000 rides for more 1,481 unduplicated individuals for all ages. This year, the transportation system has been unable to keep up with the local need for transportation with more than 2,400 riders signed up in the system.
Wabash County Transportation receives federal and state operational funding, which is matched with operating funds from the City of Wabash, Wabash County government, North Manchester Town County, United Fund of Wabash County and Community Foundation of Wabash County, in-kind contribution from local businesses and donors to the Living Well in Wabash County Annual Fund.