Clallam Transit has received a federal grant to purchase three new Strait Shot buses.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced on Dec. 1 more than $10 million in grants to revitalize the state’s bus infrastructure, including $3.9 million for agencies in Clallam, Grant, Island and Kittitas counties.
Clallam Transit received a $1.6 million share of that funding to purchase three-heavy duty buses to be used exclusively for the No. 123 Strait Shot route from downtown Port Angeles to the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal.
“I’m excited about it,” General Manager Kevin Gallacci said.
“I’m really pleased with the work that our grant team did on this and how they put together the grants. I’d also like to thank our legislative support.”
Clallam Transit will provide a $288,900 match, or 15 percent, of the total project cost.
“What this (grant) will help do is lower our future operating costs because these new buses will come with a warranty and better fuel efficiency,” Gallacci said.
Gallacci said the new, large buses will be on line in about a year.
The Strait Shot makes two round trips to Bainbridge Island each day Monday through Saturday and one round trip Sunday. In Jefferson County, it stops and can pick up riders at Discovery Bay.
Clallam Transit launched the out-of-boundary service in June 2017. The cost is still $10 per one-way trip, or $5 for youth and pass holders.
The Strait Shot has seen increasing ridership with 12,179 boardings reported from January through October, a 6.8 percent increase from the same period in 2018, Operations Manager Jim Fetzer said in a memo to the Clallam Transit board.
Gallacci said the new Strait Shot buses will have room for 52 passengers. The existing buses have 38 seats.
“When we started the service in 2017, it was an expansion in our service and we used buses we would typically run to Forks and Sequim,” Gallacci said.
“The new buses have more of an over-the-road type of configuration. They have the ability to hold more passengers, and they would have luggage compartments underneath.”
The new buses will have overhead luggage racks and underbelly compartments for more luggage but no restrooms.
Meanwhile, Clallam Transit has ordered 10 new coaches for its fixed route services in Clallam County. Those buses are expected to arrive in the spring.
At the Nov. 20 Clallam Transit board meeting, officials warned of state funding cuts from the recent passage of Initiative 976, the Tim Eyman-sponsored $30 car tabs measure.
The addition of a third, mid-day run for the Strait Shot was among the projects listed as “deferred” amid uncertainties surrounding I-976, which is facing a court challenge.
Clallam Transit officials said the impacts of I-976 would become more apparent after the 2020 legislative session.
The existing Strait Shot service will continue through at least 2020.
“We do know that the Strait Shot is a very popular run, and we want to do our best to keep it operating,” Gallacci said.
The Federal Transit Administration awarded $423 million for infrastructure improvements nationwide.
Three projects in Washington state will receive $10.5 million in grants.
• $3.9 million to the state Department of Transportation for replacement and expansion vehicles and equipment for transit agencies in Clallam, Grant, Island and Kittitas counties.
The new vehicles will improve safety, access and mobility for transit riders in rural Washington, federal officials said.
• $5 million to Intercity Transit, which serves Olympia and neighboring cities, for a bus yard expansion and installation of a propane fueling station.
• $1.6 million to the city of Longview to purchase new low-floor bio-diesel buses to replace older RiverCities Transit buses that have exceeded their useful life.
“Public bus systems throughout the country provide millions of Americans access to jobs, health care, grocery stores, and other vital services,” Chao said in a Monday press release.
The FTA received applications for 318 eligible projects totaling $1.9 billion in funding requests from 270 applicants in 43 states and territories, officials said.