After years of wear and tear, a couple of Palace Transit busses will be replaced in the near future.
Jessica Pickett, the city’s community services director who oversees Palace Transit public transportation system, said the two 2008 model busses that will be replaced have been withering away and experiencing mechanical issues over the past few years.
“The maintenance we’ve had to do on them lately has been terrible. We have oil leaks and other issues reoccurring, and they are very expensive to maintain and repair” Pickett said. “We were able to get a lot of good use out of them though.”
According to Pickett, one of the lifts on busses that’s set to be replaced is inoperable as of now, which leaves the city’s public transportation system with one bus that has a functioning lift. Pickett emphasized the importance of having a reliable functioning lift, which hoists riders who are either wheelchair users or typically have some form of a disability that makes it difficult to enter the bus.
Although they’ve been able to get by with one bus that’s equipped with a functioning lift in recent months, Pickett said it will be “big relief” to have two 16 passenger busses with lifts again.
“Having a functioning lift is very important for people who need it in order to ride the bus, including dialysis patients,” Pickett said.
After the Mitchell City Council approved accepting a grant from the South Dakota Department of Transportation during Tuesday’s meeting to fund a large portion of the new 16 passenger busses, Palace Transit will soon welcome them to the fleet. The total cost of the two new busses amounts to $162,500. While the $130,000 grant Palace Transit received to replace the old busses covers the majority of the costs, the city will cover the remaining $32,500 of the costs to replace the busses.
With the closure of Lori’s Lift and a drastic decline of Lyft drivers in the Mitchell area, there has been less taxi services available in Mitchell. Considering the dwindling taxi options, Pickett said it’s vital to continue maintaining Palace Transit’s public transportation system as more people are relying on the service.
“It will be so nice to have two busses with lifts, especially since there are less transportation options available for people in the Mitchell area,” Pickett said.