CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the approval of $1.8 million in Illinois FIRST funds for new buses and paratransit vehicles for PACE, the suburban bus system in the Chicago region.
"Illinois FIRST was designed to not only repair, replace and upgrade our vital infrastructure, but to also improve the quality of life for Illinois residents,” Governor Ryan said. "These funds will be used to leverage $7.3 million in federal funds which will permit PACE to purchase seven new buses, 28 paratransit vehicles, and other needed equipment, thereby providing for more comfortable and efficient suburban bus service for thousands of riders in the Chicago area."
The seven buses will play a vital role in the lives of thousands of people, in and around Chicagoland, by providing accessible transportation to and from work or the doctors office. These buses will replace 12-year-old buses that require expensive maintenance in order to remain in operation. The paratransit vehicles are smaller than buses and are equipped with a lift or ramp for the elderly and those people in a wheelchair. The paratransit vehicles will replace equipment that is up to seven years old and have more than 100,000 miles on them, most of which have provided 1.5 million rides a year in the 6 county region. PACE also will replace 11 vehicles for maintenance and support staff.
The bus system will also be purchasing equipment that will better secure wheelchairs in buses, which will be an upgrade in comfort and convenience from the original equipment. PACE also plans to replace the roofs at both the North and South Division garages. Computer equipment will be upgraded which will allow paratransit staff to monitor reservation calls at remote ADA and dial-a-ride sites.
The Illinois FIRST funds are made available through the State Mass Transportation Capital Grant Program.