Some buses of the Casper Area Transportation Coalition have needed new transmissions, while others needed lug nuts.

Another recently had to be towed to the city garage.

The city was spending more and more money on maintaining these vehicles with 200,000 or more miles, Carol Crump told council members at a work session Tuesday. "At 200,000 miles, they're done; they're worn out."

Crump, vice president of the CATC system, recounted how Casper City Council in 2005 approved, with some disbelief in its ability to be popular, The Bus system.

By 2013, it had logged its first million riders. Next month, that number will reach two million, she said.

When the program started, the city had been buying two new buses every year through a federal program that matched 80 percent of federal dollars with 20 percent of local dollars, Crump said.

But a few years ago, the federal money was cut at the same time the city was facing issues with its budget, meaning buses were not being replaced.

But a nice problem surfaced in January, when city officials announced the optional one-cent sales tax No. 14 -- approved by voters in 2000 and was in effect from 2001 to this month -- would generate $24 million more than anticipated with about $20 million available for projects ranging from infrastructure to projects proposed by local charities.

Crump said the CATC/The Bus request is different from these.

"We're asking the city council to use excess one-cent number 14 to purchase six replacement buses for the CATC/The Bus system," Crump said.

About $810,000 total will be needed to buy three buses in the current fiscal year and three in the next fiscal year, plus a security system, she said.

During the work session, some council members voiced their support for the CATC proposal, but balked at the price tag.
Ray Pacheco said the requests for excess one-cent No. 14 funds have already whittled down the excess and he's leery of such a large request.
Steve Cathey said council needs to consider the request along with other infrastructure needs.
Crump maintained the city has a responsibility and a rare opportunity to get the bus replacement program on track by 2019.

"This was our initiative to support a city service," she said. "The city owns the buses, the city maintains the buses, and we run the system for them. So we felt this was a good opportunity to tap into the one-time fund to improve a city service."