Poughkeepsie… “I expect each and every LOOP bus passenger should be able to reliably get where they need to go because that’s what our residents expect from the Loop bus system,” said Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus.
“Last week’s situation with the LOOP system is completely unacceptable. We took immediate and decisive action to deal with it, starting with my order to remove all buses from the road last Friday,” Steinhaus continued.
The County Executive ordered all LOOP buses off the road on Friday, September 21st after inspections found some buses did not meet NYSDOT inspection standards. Importantly, replacement vehicles have kept all LOOP routes covered and there have been no interruptions in service. As buses are repaired and pass inspections, they are being returned to their routes.
The County Executive said, “I have directed all options be explored to determine the best operational structure to ensure a successful long term operation of the LOOP transit system. Meanwhile, in the short term, the county has required PTM of Ohio – the private company under contract to operate the county system - make immediate operational changes to keep the buses on the road, so people can safely get where they need to go with a feeling of confidence and reliability.”
The County contracts with Professional Transit Management (PTM) to manage and operate the LOOP bus system. “We have put PTM on notice and they are cooperating fully in our top to bottom evaluation to determine what changes and improvements must be made.”
County Executive Steinhaus has directed the following steps be taken to ensure the safety and stability of the LOOP bus system:
- A comprehensive evaluation of the entire operation to be completed within 45 days including management and maintenance procedures.
- Additional resources be provided by the LOOP system operator, PTM, including additional on-site management personnel and increased corporate oversight presence to ensure company procedures and protocol are being followed.
- Establish a formal, permanent link with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT) for regular inspections of the fleet.
- County personnel assigned last Friday, September 21 to be on-site at the LOOP location shall continue on a daily basis during the evaluation period.
- Accelerate the 2008 scheduled purchase of 15 new buses to replace the “Bluebird” buses, which have not met original expectations and have proven to be problematic to maintain and operate.
- Directed the creation of a task team including Roger Akeley, Commissioner of Planning and Development; Earl Bruno, Commissioner of Personnel; Ronald Wozniak, County Attorney; Anthony DeRosa, Chief Assistant County Attorney; Charles Traver, Acting Commissioner of Public Works; Linda Way, Director of Risk Management; and Betsy Brockway, Director of Health and Human Services. The group immediately began work last week and will continue working together as a task team through the exploration and review of operational models.
County Executive Steinhaus said, “As already stated, I have directed all options be considered for the long-term operation of the LOOP bus system during the 45 day evaluation period. The county will be looking to find the best long term solution for a safe, reliable and cost effective system. We must know our options before the 2008 budget is finalized by the Legislature this November.”
Possible operational models include:
- the current model of contracting with a private company to run the system
- establishment of a bus authority
- intermunicipal cooperative model
- government self-operated model
“Despite the current challenges in the transit system, customers have experienced no interruption in service. All routes are running as scheduled and people can be assured of getting to their destination safely,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.