Paso Robles to buy a new 30-passenger bus for city route

The city of Paso Robles will purchase a new 30-passenger bus for its Paso Robles Express routes.

The Ford F-550, complete with wheelchair access and a bike rack, costs about $128,000 and will be paid for by a state grant.

Many of the city’s buses need to be replaced, Administrative Services Director Jim Throop said, but additions have been put on hold during the recession. In fact, the city would need another five buses to fully meet its minimum requirements for operating its transit system. After new buses are purchased, the city could begin to sell its old buses for surplus.

Instead, the city has 11 old buses “because we need backups since they break frequently due to age/mileage,” he said. “We have had days where six buses may be in for repairs, which puts our transit system in jeopardy of being able to operate.”

Last year, the city spent nearly $200,000 on bus repairs, from new tires and batteries to fixing transmissions and engines. Buying a new bus helps offset costs needed for repairs, he added.

The city buses range from about 3 to 10 years old.

“That may not sound old, but most of the mileage is over 200,000 on the buses,” Throop said. “Newer ones are slightly less.”

Their repetitive starting and stopping, as well as wear from riders, also contribute to their condition. The new bus will go into use in about three months.