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Local

BPART growing 'painfully fast,' needs more drivers

Expansion of service hours boosts demand for rural transit service

PRINCETON — Bureau Putnam Area Rural Transit (BPART) is growing “painfully fast” and is in need of more drivers and a mechanic to keep up with its passenger demand.

During Tuesday’s Bureau County Board meeting, BPART Director Mick Johnson shared statistics for October and said the numbers had drastically increased from September.

Total number of passengers were 6,311, and total passenger miles were 55,276.

With so many passengers, Johnson said BPART has had to deny rides, because there is not enough staff to keep up with the demand.

“There just isn’t enough help out there, and I need more,” he said.

Johnson thanked board members for their support of BPART since its inception.

“I feel we have proven that it is a valuable asset and we are at a point where all we can do is go up. We’re growing fast. We need more vehicles. We need more drivers. We need more riders. … Spread the word because we’re doing good things, and I want to keep it up,” Johnson said.

The BPART storage and mechanical building in Wyanet is up and running. Down time for any vehicles needing repair is only about four hours, according to Johnson. Oil changes take only 15-20 minutes. Currently, the transit organization has only one mechanic on staff, who is working anywhere from 50 to 60 hours a week to keep up with the fleet. Johnson said he could also use another mechanic.

“We are up and running full steam,” he said.

In July, BPART expanded its service hours to include evenings and Saturdays. With this change, BPART now operates from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

In other news, the board:

• Heard Bureau County Clerk Matt Eggers announce the filing period for the March 2020 primary begins Nov. 25 and ends Dec. 2.

• Approved the reappointments of Deb Madsen and Sue Pratt to the Bureau County Regional Planning Commission for three-year terms and Bill Jensen to the Bureau County Zoning Board of Appeals for a five-year term.

• Approved the transfer of public safety sales tax funds in the amount of $88,551.60 to the general fund.

• Approved closing the courthouse at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 24, and on Tuesday, Dec. 31.

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