Valley transit changes may be coming

The operators of Grand Valley Transit will soon conduct an in-depth study of the agency’s 11 bus routes to identify potential changes that would enable it to offer rides later in the evening on some routes.

Buses run every hour from 5:15 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. six days a week, and riders — particularly those in the restaurant and retail industries — have been clamoring for GVT to add nighttime service.

The Grand Valley Regional Transportation Committee last week approved a fare hike that will boost the price of a single bus ride from $1 to $1.50 beginning Oct. 3.

Officials say the fare increase is needed to help cover increased operational costs and won’t pay for additional service. But committee members have been pushing for a review of the bus system to see how it can add hours on some routes without an increase in spending.

“My hope is (for the study) to show us where the most efficient and overly populated routes are and where the underutilized routes are, and maybe we can do some tweaks,” said Stacey Mascarenas, a Fruita City Councilwoman and member of the Grand Valley Regional Transportation Committee, which oversees GVT’s operations.

The Mesa County Regional Transportation Planning Office, which oversees GVT’s operation, is expected to hire a consultant soon to study the current route system, analyze ridership and make recommendations on possible changes. The study, estimated to cost $35,000, is expected to be completed this fall. Any changes to routes and hours of service would take effect sometime early in 2012.

“We really want to look at route performance — extending some routes that are really popular and possibly reducing time on other routes,” said Todd Hollenbeck, manager of the Regional Transportation Planning Office.

GVT’s two most popular routes are the North Avenue route, which runs from Seventh Street east to the transfer station at 32 Road and the Interstate 70 Business Loop in Clifton, and the midtown route, which runs along or by Main Street downtown, Grand Avenue, North Avenue, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Mesa County Community Services Building. The North Avenue route carried more than 14,000 riders in June.

“The North Avenue routes are to max capacity,” Hollenbeck said. “When we’re stopping as frequently as we are, it’s hard for those buses to stay on time.”

In contrast, GVT’s least popular routes run to Palisade, Fruita and Orchard Mesa. Each route carried less than 5,000 riders in June.



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