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VIABILITY receives 10 new minibuses via a community grant

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

In the forthcoming fiscal year, several new additions to the VIABILITY fleet will be seen on the streets of Western Massachusetts. Our transportation department recently acquired 10 new minibuses as part of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, or DOT, community grant program.

One of our new minibuses at the Brookdale Drive, Springfield, Massachusetts parking lot in late June.

The 2019 E450 Super Duty vehicles are parked at our Brookdale Drive location in Springfield, Massachusetts, and used to transport members for our Pyramid and Springfield Employment Training Support, or ETS, and Community-Based Day Support, or CBDS, programs. The minibuses hold 12 individuals and two wheelchairs.

“They’re really nice and the minibuses are so much easier to drive. The transit vans are very difficult in the snow,” said Will Young, lead driver. “And, the minibuses have the ‘new car’ smell.”

To qualify to receive the minibuses, the community grant application required information about our agency, members, areas served, and where the vehicles would travel and for what purposes. The state then reviewed the applicants’ information and determined an agency’s needs. VIABILITY Transportation Regional Director Aimee Bell said our organization requested 10 minibuses.

“I’m happy for the agency,” said Aimee. “It’s nice to receive the grant, because the state pays 80% and we as an organization pay 20% of the total cost the vehicles.”

While it’s exciting to know the bid was accepted in its entirety, there is a lot of work involved to get the vehicles road ready.

The expenditures can be likened to winning a new car on a TV game show. Yes, the vehicle itself is free, but insurance, registration, maintenance, and gas now fall on the responsibility of the new owner. In addition, our recently acquired vehicles must be outfitted according to our contractual obligations, inspected, and our 35 drivers must be licensed and have physical certificates to drive the buses.

This is the third year VIABILITY has received minibuses from the grant. In 2015, we obtained seven minibuses. Six stayed at Brookdale, while one went to the Tradewinds clubhouse in Southbridge, Massachusetts. In 2017, we were granted five minibuses all of which service our Pyramid program. This year the 10 buses awarded will be split between Pyramid and ETS Springfield.