Bus to Battlement coming summer 2020
The bus service from Battlement Mesa to Rifle could begin in June, with a grant from Garfield County.
Parachute town manager Stuart McArthur told the commissioners Monday that a number of items have to be worked out to meet the June goal, but that is the best time to be able to hire drivers for five-day bus service from Battlement Mesa to Rifle.
The commissioners voted unanimously to release a $300,000 grant to the Parachute Area Transit System, some of which will be disbursed immediately.
Connecting Parachute to the RFTA’s Hogback line has been a need for years, McArthur said.
“The town and Battlement Mesa has always needed transportation services,” McArthur said, but the idea for the town to run that service came from public meetings around 2017.
The primary groups who need the service are students who need to get to Colorado Mountain College, seniors who can’t drive and need transportation, and low-income workers who can’t afford vehicles, but need jobs and currently have no public transportation options.
There’s still a lot to do before the service is ready, but the release of grant funds marks a turning point for the project.
The June start date “coincides with two things,” McArthur told the commissioners.
“One, school is over, so school bus drivers might be available to work. And also, that notes the end of RFTA’s winter season, so again, other drivers might be available to work,” he said.
Another difficulty is procuring buses. Rifle has offered to sell their senior busses for the Parachute/Battlement, but the town isn’t sure how soon that can happen.
Rifle is in the procurement process for a new senior bus, and the current buses are still needed for senior trips.
The first priority will be hiring an administrator to head up the bus project. McArthur will also schedule public meetings in the coming months in both the Parachute area and Rifle, and continue working on schedules, routes and bus stops.
Rifle is the only formal partner to the bus project, but RFTA has helped develop the preliminary routes, fees and schedules.
Colorado Mountain College is also looking into partnering as well.
“I think we can hopefully draw in some other partners to make this a reality, because we have some definite needs,” Commissioner Mike Samson said.
For the first year, the plan is to hire two full-time and one part-time driver for the weekday bus service.
Preliminary fare rates range from $3 for CMC students to $4.50 for a ride from the first bus stop in Battlement Mesa into Rifle.
“I think it’s going to be great for the area. The town of Parachute is happy to be able to provide this service to the residents of Parachute, Battlement Mesa, and Rifle,” McArthur said.
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