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Geauga Transit getting six new, environmentally friendly buses

A design of the new Geauga Transit propane buses.
Julia Schick
Geauga Transit will be getting six new, propane buses.

Geauga County’s public transit system will be getting six new environmentally friendly buses next year. This is the latest effort to expand accessibility in the county.

The new 12-passenger propane buses will replace aging gasoline-fueled vehicles used by Geauga Transit.

The operation of Geauga Transit was taken over by neighboring public transit agency Laketran earlier this year, according to Laketran's CEO Ben Capelle. Geauga Transit is one of a number of rural transit agencies in the state facing challenges, he said. A study from the Ohio Department of Transportation found that this transition would benefit both agencies, Capelle said.

"At Laketran, we have about 300 employees and 150 buses," Capelle said. "Geauga Transit has about 25 employees and 18 buses."

"One of Geauga Transit's problems in the past has been the ability to replace equipment," Capelle said. "Their buses are significantly older than ours. They had to take some out of service recently because they were just sort of beyond repair."

A $1.15 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration and ODOT will help Geauga Transit pay for the new buses improving the transit service's accessibility and environmental impact, Capelle said.

“Propane is a much cleaner burning fuel than gasoline or diesel," he said. "It’s 98% American made.”

The new propane buses also will be cheaper to run, Capelle said.

“Propane saves about 35% on fuel costs," he said, adding that the money saved will be used to pay staff.

Laketran already has several propane buses in its fleet, he added.

"Part of the fact that ODOT trusted Geauga Transit to move forward with propane was our breadth of experience at Laketran, they... felt secure in their investment at Geauga Transit," he explained.

Capelle hopes the new buses will lead to an expansion of the system’s services.

“We hope this will eventually lead to having more availability of service," he said. "Busing has been one of their biggest constraints in the ability to provide more service, so being able to put more buses on the road means that ultimately, we’ll be able to expand service a little bit.”

The new buses are expected to arrive next summer, Capelle said. In the meantime, Laketran will continue working to integrate Geauga Transit into its system, he said.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.