Portales Area Transit to receive new van

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

The Portales Area Transit system will be getting a new 15-passenger van this month thanks to $25,083 from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

According to a press release from U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s office, the City of Portales will be receiving $25,083 to support public transportation in Portales. The Portales Area Transit system is equipped with four passenger vans and a bus. However, the 1996 Dodge van and the 1997 Dodge van each have more than 100,000 miles on them.

Pam O’Malley, executive director of the Community Services Center in Portales, said the 15-passenger van has already been ordered from Zia Bus Sales out of Albuquerque and is expected to arrive in Portales some time this month.

Bingaman said he is pleased that communities across the state will share more than $800,000 to support public transportation, including the purchase of new buses in the press release.

“Public transportation is essential in a state as large as ours,” Bingaman said. “This funding is a major investment in New Mexico communities and our state’s transportation system.”

The City of Portales officials had to provide a 20 percent local match, more than $5,000, for the grant.

“I don’t know what we would be able to do without it,” O’Malley said. “We give rides to people to the meal site who otherwise wouldn’t be able to come and eat.”

For the fiscal year of October of 2004 to September of 2005 there were a total of 12,799 passengers. There were 2,868 elderly, 1,053 disabled, 238 non-ambulatory individuals and 8,640 other passengers who don’t fall in those categories.
The Community Services Center employees did the grant-writing on the application more than 1-1/2 years ago. Single fare cost for a ride is 75 cents and a 10-ticket ride costs $5. Hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Portales Area Transit is accessible to disabled persons and drivers can assist with frail and non-ambulatory passengers.

There is a wheelchair lift with the 15-passenger van for the wheelchair passengers. For rides or information on PAT people can call 356-5101.