Region 11 – Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency (HIRTA)
HIRTA is organized under an Iowa Chapter 28E agreement as the public transit service provider for the seven central Iowa counties of Boone, Dallas, Jasper, Madison, Marion, Story, and Warren. Public transit services are provided by contractors in each county.
HIRTA’s services are available to anyone in the seven-county region, including persons with disabilities, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Nearly 100 percent of the HIRTA vehicle fleet is handicap-accessible. Rides are provided on a demand-response basis, with trips scheduled 24 hours in advance and delivered door-to-door for customers.
HIRTA will receive $1,259,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 funding to purchase 20 vehicles to be used for public transportation services. 100 percent of these funds will go toward the purchase of the vehicles, no local match is required.
HIRTA said they are “thrilled” to be receiving funds to purchase 20 vehicles through the ARRA. Receipt of the new vehicles will allow them to lower maintenance costs associated with the older vehicles. In addition, fuel costs will be lowered since the new vehicles are more fuel efficient than the vehicles over 10 years old.
HIRTA will also be able to provide more transportation services because the new vehicles will be more reliable and capable of making longer trips. In addition, passenger capacity of the fleet will increase when a larger vehicle replaces a smaller one and four expansion vehicles are added.
A few of HIRTA’s oldest vehicles being replaced with ARRA funding are:
Vehicle 8720: assigned to the Warren County feet in 2001 at 53,405 miles, 1996 Ford 138-inch light-duty handicap-accessible bus, 183,201 miles; major expenses included lift replacement and installation of an air conditioner; maintenance costs to date total $28,601.52, with the majority of that spent since FY2006; this vehicle has been used to provide public transportation around Indianola, with an occasional trip to Des Moines for Warren County residents
Vehicle 2218: assigned to Dallas County; 1997 Ford commuter, 176-inch light-duty handicap-accessible bus; 170,928 miles; this bus has had continual heating and cooling issues, alternator problems, and electrical problems; periodically, this bus has had problems with the engine skipping or dying; this vehicle is not utilized during the winter months due to the heater problems; major repair bills since FY2005 total $12,110; this vehicle has been used for general public trips and medical trips
Vehicle 6520 assigned to Marion County (Pella); 1997 Ford Collins 138-inch light-duty handicap-accessible bus; 162,056 miles; maintenance issues have resulted in limited use of this vehicle in recent years, the most recent being transmission repair; because of the maintenance issues, this vehicle is now used as a spare vehicle only, staying close to Pella in case of breakdown; the vehicle was used to transport the citizens from Oskaloosa and Knoxville to Pella daily
Vehicle 6519: assigned to Marion County (Pella); 1997 Ford Windstar handicap-accessible minivan; 120,177 miles; this vehicle has required several expensive repairs between March and October 2008, including engine head gaskets, front end work including new steering gear, alternator and ignition switch; the engine failed completely in the fall of 2008 and a new one was not located until February 2009; repair bills over the past year total $4,814.37; prior to its maintenance issues, this minivan was used to transport persons with severe disabilities within Pella, and to travel to medical appointments in Des Moines and Iowa City; this vehicle now used daily bringing passengers from Otley into Pella
Vehicle 5508: assigned to Marion County (Knoxville); 1997 Ford Windstar handicap-accessible minivan (replaced with 138-inch light-duty handicap-accessible bus); 128,203 miles; this vehicle has always run high in maintenance costs; it dies periodically with no warning and mechanics from several different repair shops have been unable to determine the cause; this problem began approximately one year after the van was purchased new; other repairs have included a transmission when the vehicle was only three years old; since 2008, repair bills have totaled $1,892.68; this vehicle cannot be used on a regular basis, as it is unreliable; it only serves as a backup vehicle in Knoxville