The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 21, 2014

Minivans may be added to EPTA arsenal

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — There could be new vehicles in the Enid Transit motor pool soon.

General Manager James Neal said Tuesday his agency has received unofficial notice that the Oklahoma State Department of Human Services may provide enough funding for the purchase of two minivans.

The money would come in the form of a capital procurement grant.

Neal said Enid Public Transportation Authority would pay 15 percent of the cost, or about $5,900 per vehicle.

“We would then auction two of our oldest, highest-mileage shuttle buses,” he said.

EPTA has not yet received official word from the state concerning the grant, however.

Enid Transit does not plan on completely replacing its fleet with smaller vehicles like the vans. Neal said his goal is to provide a balanced mix of minivans and shuttle buses.

“The minivans provide better fuel economy, while the shuttle buses provide a greater number of seats per driver for peak periods and the ability to load larger wheelchairs,” he said.

EPTA is holding off on operational changes after a whirlwind eight-month restructuring. Along with raising rates to offset a massive budget shortfall, Neal re-implemented a call-for-service method of public transit over the inefficient fixed routes.

In December, EPTA increased the cost of same-day ride service. Rides reserved a day in advance will remain $2 per ride, but rides called for on the same day will be charged $5.

“EPTA and its customers have undergone a lot of change in the last eight months, and we now have established a solid and efficient framework on which we can build,” Neal said. “We are looking forward to a period of operational stability for the remainder of the fiscal year in which the public can become better accustomed to the new system and we can continue to monitor system efficiency and utilization.”

Last summer, EPTA resumed transportation to regional airports, bus terminals and metropolitan centers.

The intercity routes were suspended in April 2013 because of a lack of drivers — and a lack of money.

Enid Transit renewed service to Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Perry, and service was added to Stillwater. In-county service to Lahoma and Waukomis also is available.