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Groups get chance at wheels

Island Transit Maintenance Manager George Haigh looks over surplus buses that will soon be available to nonprofit groups. Island Transit has almost 30 buses ready to be awarded. - Nathan Whalen
Island Transit Maintenance Manager George Haigh looks over surplus buses that will soon be available to nonprofit groups. Island Transit has almost 30 buses ready to be awarded.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen

Over the past couple of years, Island Transit has accumulated almost 30 surplus buses. Instead of making a few bucks and selling them at the government auction, Island Transit has chosen a different course.

This spring, local nonprofit groups can apply to receive one of the various vehicles that the transit system isn't using anymore.

"Rather than taking the vehicles to federal and state auctions, we're offering them to the community," said Martha Rose, executive director of Island Transit.

Island Transit has 27 surplus vehicles that are available for local nonprofit and government groups. The vehicles range from vans to 30-passenger buses.

One possible "bidder" is excited about the prospect.

"We would use a van for going on vocational field trips," said Deb Campbell, director for the Literacy for Life Program in Oak Harbor. "It would really augment our program."

She added that the surplus bus program would help solve transportation issues they often have. She had inquired about the program about a year ago and had forgotten about it since. But now she might be in the running for a vehicle for her group.

The surplus buses have high miles and it is more economical for Island Transit to get rid of the buses rather than keep maintaining them, according to Rose. Transit buses put more than 400 miles each day they're in service. That mileage, she said, should not be an issue for the groups wanting to use the surplus vehicles.

"They all have high mileage but they are beautifully maintained," Rose said. She added that the maintenance records will be provided.

All buses that are awarded have no warranties and are awarded "as is."

To be eligible to receive a vehicle, an organization has to have nonprofit status and must use the buses within Island Transit boundaries -- which is essentially all of Whidbey Island. The vehicles must be used for transportation-related purposes or for emergency preparedness.

Groups applying have to prove they are capable of driving, insuring and maintaining the buses. For the larger buses Island Transit is making available, drivers need commercial licenses.

Rose stressed that groups have to keep a log showing how a donated bus is used. If the vehicles aren't used for their intended purpose, they will be repossessed and given to a different organization, Rose said.

Interested groups can attend a workshop next week at the Race Road Fire Hall to pick up an application.

Interested parties can inspect the surplus buses during the first half of May. They have to make an appointment.

Applications will be due May 15 and the buses will be awarded during the first week of June.

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