VITRAN preparing for new smaller buses

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ST. THOMAS - Several V.I. Public Works and VITRAN employees recently traveled to Salina, Kan., to meet with the contractor that will build a dozen new buses for the territory.

Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls along with Operations Manager and Territorial Coordinator Stephen Monsanto, Transportation Planner Keith Richards and Territorial Chief of Maintenance Pepsy Wilkins attended pre-construction meetings at El Dorado National-Kansas, the company selected to provide 12 new medium buses for VITRAN.

Representatives from International - the manufacturer of the cab and chassis for the buses - as well as from Atlantic Bus Sales met with the Public Works staff to finalize the details of the new buses.

The 18-seat buses will be able to accommodate two wheel chairs and will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The medium-duty buses will take about half a year to construct, and will immediately go into service upon delivery to the Virgin Islands.

During the two-day visit to the assembly plant in Kansas, Smalls and his staff discussed warranty, engine, seats, colors, wheel chair lifts and other technical details of the buses with the contractor.

Based on the current production schedule, the medium-duty buses will be delivered to the territory by June, according to Government House.

Public Works is also in the process of procuring 10 heavy-duty VITRAN buses. In October, government officials met with National Bus Leasing Inc., the contractor selected to construct the new large buses.

The heavy-duty buses take about a year to complete because of strict federal regulations. They will also be ADA compliant.

The department gets about $1.2 million a year from the Federal Transit Administration - half of which is designated for new buses. Because manufacturers will not build unless they receive an order of at least 10 buses, Public Works has had to save up the federal funds for four years to have the $4.5 million needed to purchase the new buses.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email

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