GoBus, a public transportation service for fourteen counties in East Texas, has announced their plans for a new in-house facility to provide a more consistent maintenance program.

At the end of November, GoBus revealed the recent approval from the East Texas Council of Governments’ Executive Committee to build the new in-house maintenance facility in an effort for enhanced preventative measures on organizational vehicles across their service region. This comes after the results of a 2021 feasibility study from GoBus to determine the impacts of an in-house facility from inspections to cost-savings it will provide.

“After several years of research and planning, GoBus is excited to be in the preliminary stages of construction and design,” said Transportation Director Vince Huerta. “Having in-house maintenance will reduce turnaround time for vehicle repairs allowing us to get them back on the road, assisting customers sooner and safer.”

GoBus is funded by the Texas Department of Transportation and administered by the East Texas Council of Governments. The service offered by GoBus is a rural, demand response public transit system in East Texas with around 300 vehicles operating a district of over 10,000 square miles, including 17 different starting locations. This accounts for around 1.4 million miles of public transportation per year in the area.

As part of their ongoing mission to provide low-cost and convenient public transportation services to the area, GoBus has affordable programs available for everyone, with specials offered for veterans and their spouses with a grant through the Texas Veterans Commission. In 2019, GoBus launched a new website at www.GoBusTransit.com, which allows visitors to request trips online, as well as providing information on county service details, veteran services and charter trips. Then, in 2021 they brought their online services to a new GoBus mobile app available now on both Android and Apple devices.

The construction of a new in-house maintenance facility aims to continue strengthening this mission. GoBus Transportation Director Vince Huerta spoke on just a few of the challenges this facility will help address saying, “We’re required to have a preventative maintenance plan in place and follow it. But you can imagine how difficult it is when you’ve got those 17 different starting locations, 50 different drivers, and multiple shifts.

“Some of the areas have maintenance and some don’t have any maintenance facilities. So we’re trying to get a steady flow of that transition of vehicles to the areas where we have services available,” Huerta said.

The project has an estimated budget of about $2.5 million and is set to allow for staff relocation, two vehicle bays, training rooms and additional parking for regional vehicles.

The services offered by GoBus give essential transportation to provide access to jobs, medical appointments, social services, entertainment, or any other destination requests. These have allowed for over 100,000 trips each year for customers in the East Texas area.

Huerta also provided some insight into the demand for public transportation and how important it is to offer this service to the East Texas area, saying “When I came aboard in 2018 we were right at about a little over 80,000 trips. We have clearly increased the level of ridership. We have gone back to pre-pandemic numbers, so the demand is there. It’s just really bringing the service to the people.”

The new maintenance facility along with specials and promotional campaigns for the public transportation services work in unison to help with what Huerta considers to be the most impactful challenge facing GoBus: awareness.

“In this environment we are in,” he says, “there are a lot of folks who need our service who aren’t aware. I have conversations all the time with people who just don’t know of our service. So I would start with the idea that we are everybody’s bus.”

GoBus estimates that the in-house maintenance facility will be completed in late 2023 to early 2024.

“Ultimately, this opportunity allows us to continue our mission of providing safe, reliable and friendly transportation services,” Huerta said.

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