The Macon Transit Authority is touting a new look that evokes the environmentally friendly nature of the buses that will replace half its fleet this year.
The new design, which features the blue and green colors commonly associated with being environmentally friendly, reflects that the system’s new buses will be two to three times more fuel efficient, general manager Rick Jones said.
Included is a logo that features a road turning into a stem and then a leaf, with a motto of “We Keep Macon Moving!”
The measure adds a new look to a system trying to reinvent itself. Passengers complain of broken air conditioning, buses that drip rainwater onto passengers inside and buses that can’t be depended on to get them to work.
The new buses themselves — a different type that resembles oversized church buses — are planned to restore Macon Transit’s faltering reliability.
The first five “cutaway” buses should arrive about March 10, Jones said.
He said he may order another five to nine buses by the fall, replacing a third to half of the agency’s fleet of 28.
But because just 17 buses are needed at peak times on the current routes, the new buses could constitute a majority of Macon Transit’s buses on the road at any given time.
Craig Ross, vice chairman of the authority’s board, said the new plans will help the authority serve its customers.
“It’s really going to help the transit meet the customer’s needs by being on time,” Ross said.
Ross said the new paint scheme will help the authority convey its environmentally friendly nature. While the existing transit buses might travel 4 or 5 miles per gallon, the cutaway buses may get 14 or 15 miles to the gallon, Ross said. The buses all use an ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel.
The new cutaway buses cost about $106,000 each, with Macon Transit paying 10 percent, the state of Georgia paying 10 percent and the federal government paying 80 percent.
But the authority is running into cash flow problems and can’t order all the buses at once, Jones said. The authority has expected about $130,000 each month since July but hasn’t received any of that, leaving it heavily reliant on a line of credit. Jones said other transit authorities are caught in the same pinch, but the federal money is expected soon.
The authority is separately seeking a grant of about $300,000 for new fare boxes onboard the buses.
Jones said once reliability in the Macon bus system is restored, he wants to look at the system’s 11 routes. With a more reliable service coming at the right time, Jones said, ridership should rise and the system will do better financially. Macon Transit’s fares now pay for 17 percent of its costs. Jones told a transportation planning group he wants fares to cover 40 to 50 percent of the costs.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.