MASON CITY, Iowa - New buses will soon be rolling the streets and roads of Iowa, Mason City and North Iowa included.
The Iowa Transportation Commission is approving $7 million in funding for 91 new buses for 18 transit agencies statewide. The North Iowa Area Council of Governments (NIACOG) is lucky enough to receive seven new buses, and Mason City is set to receive three. All of these buses will replace existing buses that are past their life expectancy.
Ralph Madison has been driving city buses for five years, and is looking forward to the new additions to the fleet.
"The older buses are diesel, quite noisy, and of course, they have a lot of miles on them. The new ones have bike racks and they're gas, so they're quieter, much quieter."
He adds that the new buses could inspire more people to take transit, and comes after a recent survey looking into just that.
"We've taken a survey and they say they really support the people that don't drive or don't have a car."
According to Mason City Transit Operations & Safety Manager Dylan Schulte, ridership for Mason City Public Transit averaged over 715 per day and more than 165,000 annually.
As for when the buses will arrive, Schulte and NIACOG's Transit Administrator Kevin Kramer say around 6-8 months between ordering and delivery.
Funds are granted through the Federal Transit Administration's Bus and Bus Facilities Formula and Discretionary Programs. The vehicles were part of the Iowa Public Transit Vehicle Replacement Project.