Region 1 - Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation, Decorah
The Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation (NEICAC), doing business as Northeast Iowa Community Action Transit (NEICAT), is proud to provide transportation services to the public in this extremely rural, northeastern corner of Iowa. NIECAT is the designated transit system serving Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard, and Winneshiek counties. With a fleet of 50 vehicles (47 vehicles are handicap accessible), the agency is the only public transportation service in the area. NEICAT provides curb-to-curb and door-to-door public transit service.
NEICAT will receive $384,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 funding to purchase two minivans and four small buses. 100 percent of ARRA funds will go toward the purchase of these vehicles, no local match is required.
Earl Henry, NEICAC director of transportation, said, “Being able to purchase new buses with ARRA funds is a big plus for NEICAC. These new buses will definitely give a positive image of public transit, not only to the residents in the area served, but to the bordering states in which we also travel.”
Ridership for NEICAT has increased 23 percent in the past year. Unfortunately, maintenance costs have increased by almost 40 percent per year since 2005. These new buses will replace buses that are over 13 years old, beyond their useful life, and restricted to in-town use or a 50-mile radius due to their deterioration in both body and mechanical condition.
Bus 609: This unit is a 1995 Supreme with 187,955 miles. It was mothballed in 2006, but was brought back into service when another vehicle was wrecked. Deterioration has taken place under the step wells and lift.
Bus 614: This unit is a 1995 Supreme with 164,489 miles. It was put out of service in 2004, but then recommissioned after another unit was damaged. The underside of the frame and outriggers show the deterioration that has taken place.
Bus 506: This unit is a 1995 Dodge minivan with 178,430 miles. This unit was to be replaced in 2007, but was retained due to budget constraints. The unit has been painted to help address with body wear.
Bus 509: This unit is a 1994 Supreme with 203,371 miles. This unit was taken out of service in 2006, but brought back into service when another vehicle became unusable. The underside of the vehicle’s frame and outriggers has severe deterioration.
Region 1 received all vehicles requested in its application for Recovery Act funding; four ADA light-duty cut-ways and two ADA lower floor minivans. The timing could not have been better for these vehicles to arrive because they replaced vehicles that were more than 13 years old, beyond their useful life, and restricted to in-town use or less than a 50-mile radius due to their deterioration in both body and mechanical condition. The new equipment provides more vehicle options for longer demand-response out-of-area nonemergency medical trips, a service that is much needed in the region 1’s rural area.
The new buses not only reduced maintenance costs, but also give riders a feeling that transit organizations are dedicated to provide their customers with a safe, reliable trip. One unexpected benefit of the investment in new vehicles is the morale boost employees experienced when older vehicles were replaced with new equipment.