Transportation switches to new buses, trolleys

The Department of Parking and Transportation has undergone a face lift over winter break with the arrival of new buses, trolleys and expanded services. The face lift accompanies the newly signed 10-year contract with transit services coordinator Groome Transportation. The switch from First Transit, the previous contractor, came after a year-long process of proposals and bids from a number of transit companies.

“The main reason we went out for a new contractor is that the old contract expired. We used the state of Georgia’s contracting services and went out for a new multiyear contract. It was a competitive bid. A number of contractors bid on it… We rated them both on technical and on cost, and at the end Groome Transportation was selected. It was done on a collaborative effort of the state of Georgia and Georgia Tech that included student representation,” said Lance Lunsway, director of Parking and Transportation.

With the new contractor come new services and features on the Stingers, Tech Trolleys and Emory shuttles. Groome provided the new vehicles, which Tech representatives helped select and design, in its contract. The new trolleys feature a cow pusher in the front, but maintained the same overall design. The Stingers feature brand-new LED screens showing bus driver and route names, monogrammed seats and rearview cameras which can be seen from the driver’s seat. In addition, the Stingers have a new exterior design featuring bold lettering, larger decals of Buzz and a gold hexagonal pattern to enhance their visual campaign across campus.

“The fact that a yellow jacket’s nest is kind of like a wood nest, if you see it from far off, but when you get close on it, you see that little [hexagonal] pattern. We use the hexagonal pattern along with the football team on Yellow Jacket alley… Everything around campus is pretty must a nest,” said Torise Battle, communications officer for Parking and Transportation.

In response to student complaints about the broken down condition of last semester’s buses, Parking and Transportation representatives maintain that the maintenance of the buses are the responsibility of the contractors. Thus, the previous contractor First Transit operated on the broken buses due to impending end of their contract last fall. The new buses and trolleys are outfitted with a new door system that should be able to endure its frequent usage.

“The buses that we specked out are expected to last the ten years based off the use that we have,” Lunsway said.

One of the most striking changes to on campus transportation, however, will be the switch to a B20 mix of regular fuel and 20% biodiesel that will be used on each Stinger and Trolley. The biofuel component will be derived straight from campus dining services and potentially restaurants around the area. Tech dining services will be collecting cooking and fryer oil used at the dining halls and Student Center food court to be refined into biofuel from an outside company.

“The notion is that this fleet will be all biodiesel,” said David Williamson, assistant director of transportation. “That’s our target, which we’re not there yet because the tanks need to be installed.”

“The exciting thing is that if you’re in the Student Center and you’re eating some French fries; know that some of that oil may be put in our buses. We’re trying to make sure that any of the used fryer oil on campus should be coming back [to] Georgia Tech in a different form as fuel,” Lunsway added.

Despite all of the changes as far as Stinger and Trolley routes are concerned, all routes will remain the same except for the green route. The route will be changed to its original one, prior to the construction of the 14th St. Bridge, and its hours will be extended to 9 p.m. More information on the routes can be found on the department’s website.