Columbia County officials recently approved a nearly $10,000 expenditure that will bring more than $170,000 worth of new vans into the Public Transit garages.
"It is an excellent deal," said Jeff Asmann, manager of the county's Senior Center and Public Transit system.
County commissioners agreed in September to spend $9,600, the county's required matching funds, to replace four Transit System vans. The state and federal Departments of Transportation are providing the remaining $172,200, said Pam Tucker, director of the county Emergency Services Division.
The total cost includes the vans, radios, wheelchair lifts and a new base radio station, Tucker said.
"For four new vans, that was quite a deal," Tucker said. "DOT wants local government to have rural transportation programs."
The county's transportation program provides curb-to-curb weekday transportation to any Columbia County resident needing to go to doctors appointments, shopping centers, employment, recreation facilities or any other business in Columbia and Richmond counties except those south of Gordon Highway.
Trips are made by appointment as little as 24 hours ahead of time and range from a $1 one-way trip for a child 12 or under to a $9 round trip for adults.
"DOT wants communities to have transportation for its citizens," Tucker said, adding that most people using the service can't afford cab fare to the destination. "The majority of the people we transport are from the rural areas."
DOT replaces the vans regularly based on age and mileage, Asmann said. The fleet for both Public Transit and the Senior Center, all of which are based out of the Grovetown center, is made up of nine vans, including two recently-purchased shuttle buses for the Senior Center.
Now that the county funds are approved, Asmann said the state DOT will place the order for the vans. He expects they will arrive by December.
For more information about public Transit or to schedule a pick-up, call (706) 556-0807.
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