Ozark Regional Transit: Fire Destroys 20+ Buesses

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 - Crews were on scene of a bus fire and explosion at Ozark Regional Transit in Springdale, AR. Below is the plea SWTA received from Joel Gardner, Executive Director.

ORT is just now mopping up from a catastrophic fire that has cause the loss of 20 of our 24 vehicles. Can you put the word out that we need help? All personnel are present and accounted for, however, our fixed route assets are decimated.. anyone in the area that has vehicles that can be loaned to us until we are back on our feet would be great…”

Click HERE to see the new story. Click HERE to see video ORT shared of the aftermath.

Joel Gardner has been overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers across the county. By Wednesday evening, OzarkRegional Transit had been offered over 100 vehicles to use until they’re able to get back on their own four wheels.

See Joel’s Letter:

Our fixed routes began limited services on Thursday, with even more additions on Friday. Come Monday, we will be putting additional buses on the road with the expectation of having 100% service Tuesday morning. At this time, the only thing that can slow this game plan would be a lack of maintenance inspection hours available to us. Our maintenance team is working overtime to examine every bus that comes to us. In a couple of cases, the buses have been in near perfect condition. In other cases, we have had to do some additional work to ensure that the bus meets our safety standards. We are confident in the quality of the buses that are being sent to us, we just want to ensure that the quality is beyond expectations.

Our Paratransit/demand response took a hit Tuesday as can be expected.. Typically, we will run between 115-125 trips per day. Due to the event on Tuesday, we immediately dropped all but the medically necessary appointments.. by Wednesday, we were back up to 105 trips and Thursdayand Friday both had 116 and 120 trips respectively.

For the tech-savvy amongst us.. our three day totals of twitter and facebookings have exceeded the entire years’ worth of retweets and followers.. according to our techies, we reached 47,497 people through facebook and 14,475 through twitter. Now, this is greek to me, but according to Ashlee and Kendall (our IT), they can determine through these two social media outlets that over 61,900 people have shared, liked, reacted, tweeted, and retweeted our news and updates.

I have reached out to legislators here in NW Arkansas, both Representative Jeff Williams’ and Congressman Steve Womack’s offices are working on a multi-pronged approach to determine and hopefully have the Governor declare an emergency in our case. I have had numerous calls and contacts with both offices providing them with as much information as possible. I have also had contact from the Governor’s office and they have indicated that the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management is looking into this. As I have more information regarding the possibility of a declaration, I will update you.

The support from the transit community has been unbelievable. We are working with local agencies, agencies within the State of Arkansas, agencies within the SWTA Nation and agencies throughout the US that have offered solutions to our fixed route needs.

Locally, U of A has helped tremendously. So has Fort Smith Transit, Open Avenues, Greenland Church Of Christ, Elizabeth Richardson Center, Pinnacle Transportation and Dynasty Transportation.

Throughout the State of Arkansas, we have had help and support from Eureka Springs, Southeast Area Transit (in Pine Bluff), Community Action Program for Central Arkansas and others.

Nationally, we have received help and support from the states of (in no particular order)Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, South Dakota, North Dakota, Texas, Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas and Oklahoma.

The support we have received could not have been possible without the dedication and support of the Arkansas Transit Association and the Southwest Transit Association, particularly Ann Gilbert and Kristen Joyner respectively.”

SWTA Nation Organizations Who Offered Assistance:

  • South Arkansas Transit
  • Razorback Transit
  • Fort Smith Transit
  • Open Avenues of NW Arkansas (5310)
  • Greenland Church of Christ (5310)
  • Pelivan Transit
  • Wichita Transit
  • DART
  • SporTran
  • Capital Metro
  • MV Transportation Corporate in Dallas
  • National Express
  • RouteMatch
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