What is the feasibility of developing a regional transit plan which links bus services between Rocky Ford to Lamar? LSC Transportation Consultants, Inc. of Colorado held a public meeting at the Lamar SOS Center this past Friday, February 17th to seek input on the need for connecting services among counties and communities and the demographics it would serve.
A.T. Stoddard of LSC Transportation spoke to several individuals including Darren Glover of Prowers County PATS Service, as well as Gary Harbert, the Prowers County VA representative, about the nature of the study and how public responses will impact the nature of the study for a potential regional service.
Stoddard said, “The online questionnaire will help determine what the needs are for various demographic segments in each community; how often would it be used per household or individual, days of the week, hours of the day, the primary reasons a person would use it, such as transportation to work or college if they didn’t own a car. Elderly persons who need to go to a medical appointment outside their community who don’t feel comfortable about taking their own car. These are the issues we want to determine before taking any next step.” He added, “The survey will also pinpoint other areas of information such as where people think the best connecting point would be from town to town along the U.S. 50 highway.’ Stoddard said this would not interrupt current transportation services already available in each community. It would help make a connection to some communities where there is no official stop for a Greyhound bus.
Harbert explained that he uses volunteer drivers to transport veterans to their medical appointments. The free service is only available for medical reasons, he explained, adding, “This is not for shopping or anything like that. When a vet has an assigned appointment, we make arrangements with them for the trip.” Harbert said this service could be useful in helping save time on the journey, especially when the medical appointment is in Denver which is usually the case. He said the service provides about 25 runs to Denver each month. “Some veterans who live to the west such as McClave or Las Animas don’t have a way to get to Lamar for the start of the journey, so we have to drive out to get them and then turn around and come back to take the trip to Hugo and I-70. This is really the quickest and easiest way to go. It would help them and us, and save time on the road if a bus could go from their home to Lamar.”
Glover, who runs the PATS service for Prowers County, said about 95% of his ridership comes from Lamar directly and a lot of it is for medical transportation. He noted that Prowers County provides a different service than the one in La Junta. “They run a deviated fixed route which means they have an established route, but they are able to make a detour to go to a specific address if it’s called for. PATS tried that for a while and in one month’s time, we only had one rider. PATS uses a demand response system. You need to go to a location, you make the call, tell us where it is and we get you and take you there and bring you back.”
Stoddard said one consideration is getting riders between communities and once they’re at that destination, how to get to a specific street address has to be figured out. He added, ‘This isn’t intended to be used by a large group of people for a day of shopping. We won’t be using a large vehicle, but probably one that can hold several people, but not with loads of packages for the return trip.”
He made his presentation on Thursday at the La Junta Senior Center, “There were probably 70 people on hand for the noon dinner. We want to get as much information as possible, and that can be done with the online survey site.” It can be accessed at http://lsccs.com/surveys/bent/community.php
By Russ Baldwin
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