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Westmoreland

Westmoreland Transit to replace rusty buses this fall

Rich Cholodofsky
| Friday, April 20, 2018, 1:00 p.m.
A Westmoreland County Transit bus pulls out onto Lincoln Highway in Greensburg on Wednesday, April 27, 2016.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
A Westmoreland County Transit bus pulls out onto Lincoln Highway in Greensburg on Wednesday, April 27, 2016.

Shiny, new buses should replace part of the Westmoreland County Transit Authority's old, rusty fleet by this fall.

Five large 40-seat commuter buses and 11 smaller 28-passenger vehicles are expected to be delivered in October, said Alan Blahovec, the authority's executive director.

“The older buses are nearly beyond their useful life,” he said. “They have well over 500,000 miles on them.”

The older buses still in service are mechanically sound but have become rust covered and will soon need to be taken off the road, Blahovec said.

Since last summer, the authority has spent about $3.5 million from federal and state grants to buy new buses.

The authority's fixed route local and commuter bus service currently operates with a fleet of 41 vehicles.

In January, the authority put into service six commuter buses fueled by natural gas. The 16 new buses also will run on natural gas.

The authority plans to eventually convert its entire fleet from diesel to natural gas-fueled vehicles.

“It's great to know we have funding in place for CNG vehicles,” authority board Chairman Frank Tosto said.

The authority this year opened a natural gas filling depot at its Hempfield maintenance facility. PennDOT paid for that project.

Meanwhile, Blahovec said the authority is considering options for six older buses taken out of service this year.

Three of those 14-year-old buses are still functional and could be donated to a transit authority in Lackawanna County that is need of vehicles.

“They have no value to us. We could put them out for bid, but we wouldn't get much for them,” Blahovec said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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