Clallam Transit to buy buses with grant funding

Kevin Gallacci

Kevin Gallacci

PORT ANGELES — Clallam Transit will purchase seven large coach buses with new grant funding, it was announced Wednesday.

General Manager Kevin Gallacci told the Transit board that the agency received $2.6 million to purchase the heavy duty replacement buses, part of a $6.7 million influx of state and federal consolidated grant program funding over the next four years.

“This is going to really boost Clallam Transit’s ability to sustain our fleet and our reliability until we can get into our next adventure,” Gallacci said.

“The next step, more than likely, is going to be electric.”

In addition to the new diesel coaches, the state Department of Transportation announced in an April 25 letter that Clallam Transit had received $1.6 million for paratransit operating assistance, $378,825 for expanded rural and tribal access on the No. 16 route to Neah Bay and $237,735 for Strait Shot operating assistance in the 2019-21 biennium.

Clallam Transit also is projected to receive $1.8 million in paratransit operating assistance in the 2021-2023 biennium.

“This buys us some stability over the next four years,” Gallacci told the Transit board.

“Can it change? Well, if something changed at the federal level, yes it can change. But at this point, this is stability for us.”

Gallacci added that the recently-approved state budget was “very favorable to transit.”

Clallam Transit Finance Manager Dunyele Mason said the agency budgeted to receive grant funding for paratransit and Route 16.

“We did not include the Strait Shot operating [grant],” Mason said.

“We were being conservative. So this is good news and this will help.”

The Strait Shot is Clallam Transit’s 2-year-old twice-daily direct bus service from Port Angeles to the state ferry terminal on Bainbridge Island.

Clallam Transit Maintenance Manager Mike Oliver said the coach replacement grant was a “big relief” for his department, which services buses that have upwards of 750,000 to 800,000 miles.

“Some of our coaches are long in the tooth, and keeping them on the road and keeping our service going is pretty important,” Oliver told the board.

“But having daylight at the end of the tunnel is very nice. It makes a big difference.”

Oliver said it would likely take 20 months to procure the grant funding, order and inspect the new buses from Gillig, a Livermore, Calif.-based manufacturer, and prepare them for service.

Coaches that are replaced by the new buses will be used as backups or sold to other agencies.

Meanwhile, the Clallam Transit board was provided with a final draft comprehensive plan.

The plan is divided into three sections: principles, policies and strategies.

“The comp plan defines our vision going forward,” said Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin, Clallam Transit board member and a Port Angeles City Council member.

“It’s our plan. It describes a lot of what we already do as an organization, and it also is aspirational.”

The draft is available on the Clallam Transit website, www.clallamtransit.com.

Final approval of the comprehensive plan is expected at the June 19 Clallam Transit board meeting.

In other Transit news, the board voted 5-0 Wednesday to implement a system-wide free service — except for the Strait Shot — during the Clallam County Fair from Aug. 15-17.

Transit Board member and Clallam County Commissioner Randy Johnson abstained, saying his wife serves on the fair board and he wanted to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest.

Clallam Transit also provided free bus service to last year’s fair.

“I think that was a good idea, and I do think whether it got people to the fair or not, it did serve a very good purpose in getting more people on the bus,” said Kate Dexter, Clallam Transit board member and Port Angeles deputy mayor.

“But advertising through the fair certainly doesn’t hurt, either.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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