Ozark Regional Transit of Springdale saw a 31% decrease in the total number of passengers and a 17% decline in miles the transit company’s buses were driven as a result of a fire that destroyed the majority of its fleet in January.
“We were shut down for almost 10 days because of the fire,” executive director Joel Gardner said. On Jan. 10, an early morning fire destroyed 20 buses and damaged two buildings at the transit company’s headquarters in Springdale. By Jan. 23, every bus route had been restored, only nine working days after the blaze. The transit company does not operate on weekends.
In January, total passengers fell to 16,273, from 23,842 in the same month in 2016. Total miles the fleet was driven decreased to 92,109 miles, from 111,758. The amount of diesel fuel buses consumed declined 74.7% to 1,370 gallons, from 5,409 gallons. The amount of gasoline used rose 27.2% to 7,020, from 5,518. Fuel economy rose 6.1% to 9.6 miles per gallon, from 9 mpg.
Use of diesel fuel fell, while the amount of gasoline consumed rose because the buses that ORT has leased or borrowed from other transit companies to replace its fleet run on gasoline, Gardner said. The company has 16 leased vehicles, but not all were operational because the maintenance staff is checking them before they are put into service. ORT owns four buses that are running on fixed routes. It also owns paratransit vehicles, which were not damaged by the fire.
Gardner said the transit company’s February numbers looked more in line with those from the same month in 2016, but he expects maintenance costs to rise as parts are purchased for the borrowed and leased buses needing work.