Transit partnership idea explored via analysis exercise
Transit officials had a lot to talk about when huddled recently to flesh out as many issues as possible — both pro and con — surrounding a proposal to create a joint Grand Valley Transit and Greyhound bus facility downtown.
Members of the Grand Valley Regional Transportation Committee and representatives from area municipalities engaged in what’s called a SWOT analysis — the acronym representative of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats associated with the project. People involved in the discussion then prioritized the top issues in each category.
“It’s a matter of getting all of those opinions out on the table, and then being able to discuss them with the group,” said Todd Hollenbeck, manager of the Mesa County Regional Transportation Planning Office.
The basics of the plan involve Greyhound moving out of its current location at 230 S. Fifth St. and into the GVT Operations Center just a few blocks away at 525 S. Sixth St. GVT would handle ticketing duties and provide basic food service and vending.
Those new responsibilities for GVT are expected to bring in between $200,000 and $300,000 every year. Workshop participants identified that new revenue as the top strength of the project.
Despite it ranking so high on the list of potential strengths, Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca posed a pointed question.
“If it’s such a money-maker for GVT, why does Greyhound want to let loose of it?” he asked.
The group also recognized the project was a great chance to form a public-private partnership, consistent with current city and county planning and offered an opportunity to create a transportation nexus in the area. Greyhound riders would be able to easily hop a GVT bus or walk a few blocks to the nearby Amtrak rail station.
On the negative side of the ledger, the issue of safety stood out among the participants, specifically in regard to the influx of new Greyhound traffic to the site and potential issues with Greyhound riders.
“First and foremost, I think the committee’s concerns were regarding the safety of existing Grand Valley Transit ridership and wanting to maintain that, as well as maintaining what the image of Grand Valley Transit is currently,” Hollenbeck said.
“There’s a lot of perception based around Greyhound. A lot of fact, too, but there is a lot of perception as well,” Hollenbeck said. That negative perception of Greyhound transfers was identified as a major weakness of the project.
Acquafresca identified drug trafficking on Greyhound buses as a problematic issue that “will be inherited by GVT with a partnership.”
A representative from Greyhound who attended the analysis meeting told the group the company works closely with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, especially in Las Vegas, to interdict drugs. But Acquafresca expressed support for something a bit more tangible if the GVT-Greyhound deal were to be finalized.
“If the partners do move forward with an agreement, there will be a contract, and that could be an opportunity to put in performance standards for Greyhound, where we would have to see progress toward reducing drug activity on their system,” Acquafresca said.
The analysis is a precursor to a business plan that is in the works. Hollenbeck expects that plan to be finalized soon, and if the GVRTC signs off on the plan, it’ll apply for state grant funds for the renovations necessary to reach the aims of the project.
A decision on a request for grant money could be made next spring.