After nearly a year of delays, seniors and other riders of Columbia County Transit will soon be cruising on some shiny new wheels.
Columbia County commissioners recently approved the purchase of two 16-passenger shuttle buses to replace a pair of aging 12-passenger vans based out of the Columbia County Senior Center on Euchee Creek Drive.
Commissioners approved $124,360 to purchase two Sprinter shuttles, Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker said.
Ridership for senior center and transit riders this year is up because of rising fuel costs, Tucker said.
Commissioners initially approved $70,000 for two replacement 12-passenger vans in January. But the vans that arrived were not up to specifications, Tucker said, and couldn't be put into service.
That forced the county to continue using vans that had been driven about 250,000 miles each, she said.
"These vans were constantly in the shop," Tucker said.
Though the new shuttles combined cost nearly $55,000 more than the original order, the vehicles are more durable than those they replaced, she said, and will provide at least eight to 10 years of service.
The delay in getting the vans had ripple effects for the cities of Grovetown and Harlem, which were promised the old vans for free.
Grovetown Councilman Dick Manion sought a van for use by the city's senior center more than a year ago. Manion said he understood the delays, but was pleased the city would finally get the van it had been promised.
"It's been an odyssey," he said, adding that the van would be used by the city's senior center for day trips and other purposes.
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