A new-generation van is now part of the fleet at Sunflower Diversified Services, which operates the General Public Transportation (GPT) system.
The 2017 Ford Transit, which was recently delivered with no miles on the odometer, replaces a 2013 Eldorado Aerotech with more than 210,000 miles. The new van will seat 12 ambulatory passengers.
It has a streamlined design and lower gross vehicle weight, which means it is more economical to operate. One result is better gas mileage.
“This new Ford is the latest in passenger transportation,” said Sarah Krom, Sunflower director of adult services. “It is available to our clients and the general public.”
Sunflower serves infants, toddlers and adults with intellectual delays and disabilities in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.
“Transportation is key to getting full access to our communities,” Krom emphasized. “Most Sunflower clients and others in our five-county service area don’t have transportation options. They need our fleet for commuting to work, shopping, leisure activities, and medical and other appointments.”
The GPT fleet consists of eight vehicles. Seven are handicapped-accessible but the new van is not. Two other vehicles, which are funded through a Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) grant, are specifically for Sunflower clients who have disabilities and may not be able to access GPT for a variety of reasons.
Last year, the fleet provided 50,460 rides and traveled 303,725 miles.
“These numbers alone illustrate the huge demand for this service,” Krom commented. “Our clients and the general public rely on us every day and we are excited to have this new van ready to go.”
The van was purchased from Kansas Truck at a cost of $51,161. Sunflower will pay $10,232.20, while the KDOT 5311 grant program is picking up the remainder.
“KDOT has a long history of being a good partner with Sunflower,” Krom noted. “All of us here appreciate its help with our fleet over the years.”
Jon Prescott, Sunflower executive director, noted Krom does a “great job” of keeping the GPT fleet up-to-date and in good condition.
“This new van is very modern and comfortable for passengers, which include Sunflower clients and the general public,” Prescott said. “We are truly blessed with KDOT’s support. It has always been a great partner in serving the public transportation needs in the five counties we serve.”
Sunflower, a non-profit agency, is in its 52nd year.