DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) – A $1.9 million grant from the Federal Transportation Administration is headed to Dubuque’s Jule public transportation system.
Every day, dozens of buses pull in and out of the Intermodal Transportation Center in Dubuque carrying hundreds of passengers around the city.
However, some of the system’s buses are noisy and plagued with issues that are costly to repair. The model of bus in question even has a class action lawsuit against it.
“They have some engine issues. Our priority is for us to replace those and get something more cost effective,” said Transportation Services Director Candace Eudaley-Loebach.
Nine re-manufactured buses will be put into service to replace the ailing buses. The buses that will be refinished to be like-new will be more handicap accessible for people with disabilities. They will utilize ramps instead of traditional lifts.
“When there’s a lift, you feel called out and like you’re slowing things down,” Eudaley-Loebach said, “We don’t want people to feel that way. We want them to feel like this is a mode you can use and feel comfortable in and you’re just like everybody else. You can board and do things yourself.”
She also said the ramps are a key player in maintaining a tight rider schedule. “A ramp is much more convenient. They’re more independent and helps keep us on time. So it doesn’t create an impediment to the schedule,” she said.
The new buses will be 30-foot buses instead of the current 35-foot. The shorter bus will make maneuvering Dubuque’s old city streets with tight turns easier for drivers.
The money will also be used to roll out new boarding pass systems that will hopefully increase rider safety.
“It will be more of an electronic based system, so the driver can focus on driving and fare box will take care of confirming whether it’s a valid pass or valid transfer. They can really focus their attention on the road,” Eudaley-Loebach said.
The federal grant requires the entire project to be completed in three years. The City of Dubuque is also matching $372,420.