ROANOKE, Va. -

Roanoke's public transit system has come a long way over the years and it just got better.

The city is welcoming nine new buses to the fleet and Stephen Grammer couldn’t be happier.

Grammer relies on public transportation to get where he needs to be in the city.

Cerebral palsy confines the 34-year-old to a wheelchair, but this new fleet of buses are about to make his ride, along with many others, a little bit easier.

"It was so much easier getting on and off,” said Grammer’s caregiver. “It's easy to strap him in and tie him down.”

The new low floor design does away with the old lift style system and allows passengers to get on and off the bus with a hydraulic ramp.

The new buses also have LED lighting, more space inside the bus and a security system.

It's a big upgrade from the last fleet of buses, which were bought back in 2006.

"You get rid of some and consequently you get some back,” said Virginia Museum of Transportation Executive Director Bev Fitzgerald. “Unfortunately, the new ones cost a lot more than the ones you are getting rid of some."

But city leaders said the new fleet is worth the investment.

Valley Metro's new buses will hopefully enhance services and rider experience and will continue to find new ways to help accommodate any and all riders.

"I think it makes a difference to everybody and the term that we might associate with handicap is much broader than we really think because there's a lot of people that just have trouble walking,” said Fitzgerald.

Beginning July 11, Valley Metro is also extending its peak service buses by one hour every Friday.

PHOTOS: Roanoke buses old and new

POSTED: 10:49 AM EDT Jul 11, 2014    UPDATED: 10:50 AM EDT Jul 11, 2014 
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