Earlier this year in March, the state announced Liberal would receive three additional buses to add to Liberal’s fleet under transportation grants from federal and state sources, which is how Liberal got its original buses in July of 2012, and City Bus Service started in September. Federal and state grants provide most of the operational expenses with the city covering only about 30 percent of the overall costs. When Liberal receives the new buses, unfortunately, the additional operating funds from the state and feds will not be included, thus requiring slight reductions in operating times, according to transit supervisor Melanie Lunceford. L&T file photo
By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
Starting June 1, patrons of the city bus system will notice a change in operating hours.
The new hours will be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., changed from the current 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. operating hours. The upcoming new hours will take off two operating hours from the current time.
The change comes due to the transit department’s operating budget not being expanded, so the department looked for ways to save money on operating costs. Melanie Lunceford, the transit supervisor, said cutting hours was one of the ways. She also said it’s impossible to say whether the change is temporary or permanent.
“I can’t guarantee if it will be temporary or permanent, it depends on what we’re given for an operating budget in the years to come because it’s all about the budget,” she explained. “We were awarded the buses but not any more operating money, so that’s why we’ve decreased the operating hours.”
However, even with the operating hours changing, the bus routes themselves will not.
Plans are also underway to add a new route to the bus system. Lunceford said the start date for that route is difficult to tell at the moment because the new buses haven’t been delivered to the city.
“We don't have an exact delivery date yet, as the vendor will customize these buses for every agency in Kansas that is receiving new vehicles,” noted the city’s press release on Facebook. “We do know that it is expected to be after July at this time.”
“Pretty much everything is put into the empty shell so they need a little time on that, and they haven’t given us an estimated delivery date yet,” Lunceford added.