GVT beats out Front Range to win transit system of year

As the bus driver rises from his seat to help, Billy Jean McGallister sets her bike in a rack on the front of a Grand Valley Transit bus Wednesday at the main terminal located at Fifth Street and South Avenue.

Grand Valley Transit has been named the large transit system of the year by the Colorado Association of Transit Agencies, an award the association said was based on the bus service’s safety, reliability and system upgrades.

Grand Valley Transit is one of the state’s 15 large transit systems, which are defined as those that run more than 25 buses during peak periods. Only one other large transit system was nominated for this year’s award, although CASTA Executive Director Ann Rajewski said it’s normal for just two or three agencies to be nominated each year.

Rajewski said the fact a Western Slope transit system received the award is significant.

“It’s typically one of these Front Range entities (that wins),” she said. “That’s definitely kudos to your community and the support it’s showed for Grand Valley Transit and the efforts Grand Valley Transit is making to serve the community.”

In its nomination form, the Grand Valley Regional Transportation Committee cited a number of highlights of the bus system:

GVT’s ridership is expected to hit 980,000 by the end of the year, a 12 percent increase over last year and a 52 percent increase since 2007.

The number of accidents involving GVT buses is just 0.4 per 100,000 riders so far this year and stood at 1.14 per 100,000 riders last year.

The bus service has maintained a 98 percent on-time rating since 2007.

In response to customers’ concerns about not feeling safe on the bus, GVT upgraded its on-board security cameras. Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputies also ride the buses to deter criminal activity.

System operators worked with local human service agencies to provide discounted passes to riders who can’t afford full-price passes.

GVT opened a new transfer station in south downtown Grand Junction last year and is building a new bus maintenance facility.

Rajewski also noted GVT is expanding its service at a time when the city of Colorado Springs has cut its transit service in half.

“It recognizes a lot of the good things that have been done over here,” GVT General Manager Valdon Lewis said.


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