Friday, June 17, 2005

KART bus transfer to Rideshare hits snag

Express Staff Writer

Two Ketchum Area Rapid Transit 1991 Blue Bird buses with approximately 150,000 miles on them may be worth $20,000 each, but an offer to sell them for half that was still $10,000 more than one interested party thought they should cost.

The KART board of directors agreed upon an asking price of $10,000 for each vehicle during their monthly meeting Wednesday, June 15.

Jim Finch, acting manager of the Peak Bus, said he was surprised at the asking price considering his impression at KART's last meeting in May that Peak could obtain the buses for free.

Discussion by the Sun Valley City Council after the May KART meeting prompted the revaluation.

"Some members said if KART had an asset it should not be given away," said Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson. "There should be some value received for the asset."

KART is trying to get rid of the old buses because they are no longer needed. It is acquiring two new 29-foot low-floor Gillig transit buses, scheduled to be delivered by next February, said KART Manager Terry Crawford.

Blaine County Commission Chairwoman Sarah Michael also hoped the board would donate the buses. In a letter dated June 13, she requested free use of the buses for Peak, the Wood River Valley commuter bus operated by Wood River Rideshare.

Michael's letter states that at KART's May meeting, the board indicated it would let the county-sponsored Peak Bus use the two Blue Birds until delivery of a new 42-passenger transit coach in late summer 2006.

Finch said he presented the new information to county commissioners after the meeting Wednesday.

"It's for the county commissioners to consider and negotiate and to look at all options, including renewal of the Sun Valley Express contract," Finch said Thursday. "We don't want to be stuck without a vehicle."

Michael said Thursday that she doesn't intend to make a counteroffer on the $10,000 price.

"We don't see that working with our financial plan to keep the bus operating," she said. "I would hope (KART and the mayors of Ketchum and Sun Valley) would take a look at this again. I'll talk to the mayors about whether or not we will move forward ... together in partnership. We want to have this work out."

The Sun Valley Express contract—which leases buses to Peak—expires at the end of September, but could be renewed if the Blue Bird option is more expensive, she said.

"We're exploring all the options for creating better local control of the Peak Bus," Finch said.

KART board member and Ketchum City Council President Randy Hall said during the May meeting that KART and Ketchum had a history of giving away used vehicles that had a low resale value.

Crawford said the KART budget didn't include any money from the sale of the buses.

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