FOLEY, Ala. (WKRG) — The familiar blue buses make 300 trips a day around Baldwin County. But some of those trips stopped Monday morning after catalytic converters were stolen off the buses.
“We provide critical transportation service to medical appointments, dialysis, cancer treatment appointments and employment. We carry a lot of people to work,” said BRATS Director of Transportation Ann Simpson.
When drivers headed to the Foley lot Monday morning, it didn’t take long before Simpson got a phone call.
“When they cranked up the bus and it sounded unusual they called and again this is the second time we’ve been hit so we had a pretty good indication of what had happened.”
The first time was back in August, nine of the buses in Bay Minette were hit by thieves and now Simpson says it has happened again.
“We think it probably happened Sunday maybe Saturday night. There were some footprints in the ditch that were very fresh prints in a muddy area. There has been a recent arrest in Fairhope. Whether that’s connected, Foley Police Department is still investigating that.”
Late Sunday afternoon, a business in Fairhope was hit on Twin Beech Road. One of the men arrested, Jerry Wayne Swann from Magnolia Springs. He is a person Foley Police are hoping to talk to about the BRATS buses. Meanwhile, those buses are still out of service and may be for a while according to Simpson.
“These are not in stock at your local auto parts store, these catalytic converters. There is quite a process to order the parts because they are on backlog because this is a national problem.”
Because BRATS is federally funded, it’s taxpayer dollars that are used to make repairs. It took about a month and 12 thousand dollars in parts to fix the buses in Bay Minette. Simpson estimates it will take another two to three thousand dollars this time.