Cleaning up

Jan. 29—HERMITAGE — Whether its the full-size Shenango Valley Shuttle Service buses or the Mercer County Community Transit smaller rides, the county's transit vehicles all need washed regularly.

The shuttle service, which follows fixed routes throughout Mercer County, and community transit, which offers transportation by appointment, are operated by the Mercer County Regional Council of Governments.

The vehicles for these two services are normally cleaned at the bus wash located at COG's bus garage at 5200 Virginia Road, Hermitage. However, COG officials are planning to replace the bus wash with a newer facility later this year.

The bus wash now in service was built about 16 years ago in 2008. It was initially expected to have a service life of about 10 years, and while the facility continues to function, COG Transit Director Michael Nashtock said the bus wash is showing its age.

"It uses more water and more chemicals than when it was first built, and there's times something might break that we have to fix," Nashtock said.

Due to the different workloads faced by the different transportation services, the SVSS shuttles are washed at least once a day, while the MCCT buses are washed at least twice a week.

On an average day, the bus wash will service five of the SVSS shuttles and 20 of the MCCT buses, and occasionally COG administrative vehicles, Nashtock said.

COG officials have issued requests for proposals, which are expected by Feb. 16, with the COG executive board potentially able to award a bid at its Feb. 21 meeting, COG Executive Director Jill Boozer said.

A timeline for the current bus wash's demolition and construction of the new bus wash will be included in those proposals. Boozer and Nashtock said they were optimistic that the project could be handled during this year's construction season.

A combination of federal and state funds are expected to cover about 80% of the project's cost, while local funds will cover the remaining 20%, Boozer said.

Nashtock said he expects that improvements in technology since the current bus wash's construction could lead to some long-term savings once the new car wash is completed.

"What's out there now is more efficient than what was available back in 2008," Nashtock said.

Aside from the planned bus wash project, Nashtock said COG officials are looking to hire more staff, including bus drivers, a mechanic and a part-time bus washer.

Those interested can find more information at the COG office at 2495 Highland Road, Hermitage, or the bus garage office at 5200 Virginia Road, Hermitage.

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