PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

September 5, 2013

PA Transit proposes bus changes

Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Port Arthur’s Transit Department is planning some changes to its bus schedule while awaiting completion of a new building designed to save countless man hours.

Though no bus routes will be eliminated, people residing in the Port Acres, El Vista and Palomar areas will be asked to request a ride, rather than wait on a fixed route.

“It’s pretty sparse out there now. We are not going to not pick-up, just are going to ask that they schedule a ride,” Debra Ambroise, Port Arthur Transit Department planner, said.

On the flip side, an early route to Central Mall has become so popular that what started as a pilot program will be made permanent.

Both changes will have to be approved by City Council after public hearings are scheduled to gain citizen input.

The early route to Central Mall was initially started about a year ago. At the time, Transit officials determined there was a need not only for workers, but also among Memorial High School students who lived too close to the campus to be included on a school bus route.

The early morning bus leaves the Port Arthur Public Library at 6:45 a.m.

Since the new route started, an average of 170 to 200 new riders board the bus monthly, Bradford Coleman, Transit operations manager, said.

While those numbers are up, fewer people are riding city buses from the Port Acres, El Vista, and Palomar areas.

Typically, during a month’s time between 36 and 46 people ride the bus from those areas, Coleman said.

In addition to the proposed bus route changes, construction on the department’s new Auto Scrubber facility is nearing completion.

According to Transit Director  Tom Kestranek, the $800,000 facility is expected to be operational by mid-to-late October.

Currently, city busses are handwashed — a practice that takes up about four hours each day for two Transit employees.

“We’ve been washing buses by hand for 30 years now,” Kestranek said.

The new automated facility will be able to wash a bus in about four minutes.

“It is a welcome piece of equipment, about 34 years overdue,” Kestranek said.

The Auto Scrubber is fully funded from American Recovery Reinvestment Act federal dollars.

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