New PARTA buses up and running

Christina Tesar

In the wake of the new year, Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority introduced two new buses to its fixed route system. Four more buses are expected to arrive in February.

Brian Trautman, director of maintenance, facilities and operations for PARTA, said the Gillig Phantom model buses will replace six of the 11 older buses PARTA received from Kent State’s Campus Bus Service two years ago.

This will be the first time that brand new buses will run on Kent State’s campus since PARTA’s establishment in 1975.

“This is all part of the genius plan of getting PARTA and campus busing back together,” Trautman said, “It is such a good combination of resources that benefits so many different aspects of the area.”

All of PARTA’s estimated 1.3 million riders will benefit from the new buses, Trautman said.

Because each new bus is equipped with the same features and none is designed to run a specific route, they provide transportation options to any PARTA route throughout Portage County.

“We look at the operations as a whole,” he said. “If the bus today would be best to be running on the stadium shuttle, then that’s what it will be running on. If it would be better for it to be running on the inter-urban route, then that’s what it will be running on.”

Frank Hairston, marketing equal employment officer and customer service director of PARTA, said in addition to its fixed route, PARTA also provides door-to-door service to Portage County residents. The money earned through this service ensures PARTA riders their fees will not increase because of the new buses.

The buses that have been currently running PARTA’s fixed routes average 12 years of service before the cost to maintain equipment starts to dramatically increase, he said.

The Federal Transit Administration has designed a framework on how each bus, depending on its age, should be maintained and the amount of money that should be spent on operational costs.

“Our goal is to get all of the fleet that we have into the FTA life cycle,” Trautman said. “By doing this, our operating costs evolve into a more budgetable parameter.”

Hairston said the new $350,000 buses come fully equipped with camera systems throughout the coaches, designed to provide both safety and security for PARTA’s riders and drivers. The cameras also help meet homeland security goals set by the FTA.

All the new model buses will meet standards set by the Americans with Disability Act.

“Not too many of the buses that were operating on the campus still had functional ADA lifts in them,” Trautman said. “Now, these buses will.”

The newer model buses are also designed to be more fuel efficient than the old ones.

“These two buses are a whole lot better than the ones running on campus,” Hairston said.

Trautman said he urges anyone with questions or concerns to call PARTA’s offices at 330-676-6701 or by e-mail at

[email protected].

“There are people out there who need the help that we have to give, and if they can pick up the phone and give us a call, we are more than happy to try to help them,” Trautman said. “That’s what we do. That’s who we are.”

Contact transportation and commuting reporter Christina Tesar at [email protected].