Transit authorities may run night buses

Grand Valley Transit, the region’s public transportation provider, is considering extending its hours of operation.

During a recent meeting of Grand Valley Transit’s funding partners, someone suggested bus service for all 11 routes be extended from the current cutoff time of between 6:35 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. to “approximately 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.” The cost would be an additional half a million dollars annually, which would drive up Grand Valley Transit’s yearly budget from $2.6 million to around $3.1 million, according to Todd Hollenbeck, regional transportation planning manager.

“We continuously hear from our riders: In order to be a more effective transportation service, you need to have a late-night service,” Hollenbeck said. “This is probably our most logical next step (in expanding service).”

Despite the recession, the extra cost did not put GVT’s funding partners completely off the idea when it was presented to them during Monday’s meeting of the Grand Valley Regional Transportation Commission, said Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca, a transportation commission member.

Representatives from Fruita, Palisade, Grand Junction and Mesa County have seats on the commission.

A date for extending service has not been set.

If extending evening hours is given the green light, Hollenbeck said buses will run regularly at night sometime after the first of the year. Grand Valley Transit’s funding partners will have to decide if it is worth the price, he said.

“I know they discussed it, they would like to do it, I just don’t know if everyone is on board,” Hollenbeck said.

Grand Junction City Council member Bonnie Beckstein is Grand Junction’s representative on the transportation commission. She said she is confident the city, county, Palisade and Fruita will support the later hours.

She said having buses run later into the evening will keep more people employed by assisting them with travel, and it will alleviate some of the congestion from area roads.

“It is definitely something we have heard from social services, the (Mesa County) Justice Center, St. Mary’s (Hospital) and many other businesses, that this is something that is needed,” Beckstein said.

If the plan moves forward, the Grand Valley Transit, which is continuing to set records for the number of riders it serves, could see an explosion in customers, Hollenbeck said.


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