Coast RTA struck a deal with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit earlier this year to buy five of Dallas’ used buses only to find out it may have to spend an unplanned $25,000 to change the paint of the yellow buses because of a South Carolina law.
In June, Coast RTA CEO Brian Piascik secured 10 newer used buses for Coast — a transit known for its aging fleet. Five of those buses have already been delivered. Those five came as is, which means they were painted in a yellow color that DART uses for its brand.
spannew buses from Dallas Area Rapid Transit need to be repainted
In Texas, having a yellow bus that’s not a school bus is perfectly fine. In South Carolina, however, it is not.
“Apparently it’s not a rule in Texas,” Piascik said of the 40-foot transit coach buses Coast bought for about $177,000. “What we’re going to have to do is put a [request for proposal] out on the street and paint them.”
South Carolina law states buses transporting more than 14 passengers must not be painted yellow unless they are school buses abiding by state laws requiring stop arms and proper lettering. Coast’s traditional colors are blue and white.
Piascik came from the Dallas area where he was a consultant with URS Corp., and worked specifically with DART. He leveraged that both DART and Coast receive federal funds for their buses, which means Coast is assuming the remaining federal life expectancy on the buses and paying DART the local match remaining on the buses. Some of the local matches remaining on the buses are as low as $5,000 per bus, Piascik has said.
Piascik is using funds from the budget line items that would have been used to pay a chief executive officer in fiscal year 2015. Coast fired its CEO in April 2014, and its chief financial officer, Julie Norton-Dew, served as interim until her resignation in May. Piascik said he is using funds saved by not having a CEO, a part-time contracted CFO and a chief operating officer, who was laid off from the company, to pay for the new buses.
In 2013, the Federal Transit Administration issued a triennial review that examines 17 areas of a transit’s federal requirements, and the deficiencies ranged from not having an existing financial plan or vehicle maintenance plan to failing to submit required reports on time and having three buses sit unused for long periods of time.
What we will do is explore opportunities for wrapping them. That will at least delay when we have to paint them.”
Brian Piascik, CEO of Coast RTA
Coast RTA has identified 16 buses in its fleet that date back to 1998 for disposal.
The second round of five buses will be purchased this fiscal year.
Piascik said paint isn’t the only answer to make the buses lawful.
“What we will do is explore opportunities for wrapping them,” he said of an advertising wrap the agency has sold to advertisers in the past. “That will at least delay when we have to paint them.”
He said he thinks the transit will have enough in the budget to correct the yellow buses.
“We actually had a pretty healthy painting budget in that $77,000 for the first five,” Piascik said. “We have money to do it. I think I have about $5,000 per bus, so we’re probably in pretty good shape.”