Wichita Transit rolls out 10 new buses equipped with Wi-Fi

05/02/2014 10:35 AM

05/03/2014 7:48 AM

Wichita Transit rolled out 10 new buses Friday, the latest move in its effort to upgrade its fleet of 50.

The new buses have low-floor access, according to the city. They come equipped with free wireless Internet connections and are more fuel-efficient diesel vehicles, said City Council member Janet Miller.

And there’s the nice new turquoise-and-chrome color scheme for the buses, she said.

The transit system has suffered for a long time from buses in bad repair, low ridership and funding problems.

Poor people in the past have said they depend on the buses to get to and from work or grocery stores. But city officials have estimated that 70 percent of Wichitans have never set foot on a city bus.

So officials Friday seemed intent on reassuring those who ride that the new buses are a sign that the transit system will stick around. In addition to the 10 it rolled out Friday, the city bought four new buses last year and it plans to buy 10 more in 2015. Eleven more buses still need to be replaced.

The new buses cost $400,000 each. A federal grant paid for 83 percent of the cost, with the local government picking up the rest, transit director Steve Spade said.

Mayor Carl Brewer, who attended the news conference outside City Hall with all 10 new buses lined up on the street, said the bus system is important for Wichita, for riders as well as other city residents.

The city’s bus transit system serves about 2 million riders a year, Miller said.

“This is an important public service,” she said.

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