KNOXVILLE — Julia Castillo, executive director for Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency Public Transit, said the agency will have two new vehicles placed in Marion county that will operate out of Knoxville.

Federal funding helped with about 80 percent of the cost of the vehicles, Castillo said during a presentation to the Marion County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Aug. 22.

Castillo asked the supervisors if Marion County could help with the remaining 20 percent match.

“I have come to the county to ask if they could provide the 20 precent match, or at least something toward the vehicles,” Castillo said.

Castillo said HIRTA is providing more services in Marion County, and the Knoxville location will extend their hours to 6 p.m. Staying open later has helped, Castillo added.

According to a recent study performed by HIRTA, about 137 rides were given in the area in August after 4 p.m., Castillo reported

Supervisor Craig Agan questioned whether or not ride numbers support the use of two new vehicles.

Castillo said yes, the ride numbers do support the use of two new vehicles, and she also said there are more trips HIRTA would like to be doing, including an Iowa City shuttle. Currently the agency has a Des Moines shuttle on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for doctor appointments.

There has been more need for day school and preschool rides, Castillo noted. She said the agency is also focusing on picking people up from senior apartment housing to drive them to the grocery store and back home. For this reason, she said the other two vehicles are necessary.

Agan wanted to know if most counties accept the 20 percent and pay at that level.

“Yes, most of them do,” Castillo said. “That is our biggest task because that is what we don’t have, which is the 20 percent.”

Castillo said HIRTA would have to take money out of their operating cost to pay the remaining 20 percent if the supervisors would not support the agency’s request.

“I don’t want to put a financial burden on to the county if it is too high of an amount,” Castillo said. “We would be more than willing to accept whatever the county feels is reasonable.”

Castillo said the two buses have already been ordered. The procurement for the buses expired in April and HIRTA wanted to get the vehicles at a less expensive cost.

She said the buses should arrive in late September, and it will take about 90 days to install the radios, cameras and graphics to get the buses ready. The buses will be ready to use for transportation in January 2018, she added.

Supervisor Steve McCombs said there obviously is a need for more buses, and he said the county is required to provide transportation.

After the discussion, the board approved paying 20 percent of the cost of the new transportation vehicles.

Also approved during the meeting were the following agenda items:

• A revision to the dust control policy which removes the customer requirement to maintain the dust control area

• The designation of a truck route around South Attica Road and East Main Street in Knoxville

• A weight limit was placed on McKimber Drive and Lisbon Drive in Knoxville to protect the county’s investment in the road

• Installation of administrative equipment and approval of the DHS Case Management Lease for their address at 104 S. Sixth St..

• Weight limits were placed on roads in Knoxville Estates.

Ethan Goetz is a general assignment reporter for the Knoxville Journal-Express. He can be reached in the newsroom at 641-842-2155, ext. 19, or via email at reporter@pellachronicle.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ethan_Goetz.

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