Two Breckenridge buses and one company in Lamar got a second chance after Breckenridge landed a stimulus grant to cover a restoration project.
With a $286,000 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Town of Breckenridge contracted American Transit Works, based in Lamar, to refurbish a few of the town's buses, putting seven people back to work.
Commissions from the Town of Breckenridge to refurbish a total of four new buses over the last two years have breathed new life into the once-flagging company. The bus restoration projects allowed the company to bring on new staff in an economically challenged community that needed the employment opportunities.
"We did two (buses) last year and two this year," said Mike Cook, a production shop manager for American Transit Works. "That's kept our doors pretty much open."
American Transit gave the buses a full mid-life make over. One of the buses, after two years of retirement due to electrical problems, was brought back to life. The other bus got new paint and flooring as well as a new engine and transmission, according to a statement released by the town of Breckenridge. Breckenridge Mayor John Warner recommissioned one of the buses in October.
They typical bus has a life cycle of 12 years.
The project helped American Transit Works get back on its feet. It has now landed jobs refurbishing buses for Summit County and working for other governments across the country.
"Summit County was very happy with the workmanship they had seen at the Town of Breckenridge," Cook said. "It was just a great opportunity to get to work with Breckenridge." Now, American Transit is paying the business opportunities forward, doing as much business as possible with local suppliers in Lamar, Cook said. Cook has lived in Lamar for 30 years.
In 2005, Cook's former employer, Neoplan, a manufacturer of transit and commuter buses, closed down its factory in Lamar after 25 years. American Transit was able to bring on some of Neoplan's former staff to put together a specialized team to complete the projects.
The buses are part of Breckenridge's free ride fleet. Restoring older buses rather than buying new ones when possible is in line with the town's sustainability platform.
SDN reporter Caddie Nath can be reached at (970) 668-4628 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.