Friday, September 27, 2013

Mountain Rides plans to trim bus service

Organization seeking public input before plan is finalized


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

A Mountain Rides Transportation Authority Blue Route bus cruises up Elkhorn Road on Wednesday. The Blue Route, which runs from Elkhorn Village to Warm Springs by way of Ketchum and Sun Valley, is one of the organizationís most popular routes. Photo by Roland Lane

    Faced with fewer operating dollars this year, Mountain Rides Transportation Authority is looking at trimming its bus service in the Wood River Valley for fiscal year 2014.
    A tentative plan has already been put together. However, Mountain Rides is seeking public input before a plan is approved by the organization’s board of directors, mostly likely in October.
    According to the proposed plan, Mountain Rides intends to maintain a comparable level of service on its highest ridership routes, which includes the Blue Route serving the Ketchum-Sun Valley area, the Hailey Circulator Route serving the city of Hailey and the Valley Route, which operates between Bellevue and Hailey and the Ketchum Sun Valley area. Also intended to remain at the same level is the Silver Route, a seasonal service mainly used to shuttle skiers from Sun Valley to River Run Plaza.
    The routes mostly likely to have service reductions are the Bronze Route, another seasonal service that shuttles skiers from Sun Valley to the Warm Springs Base, and the Green Route, which operates in the west Ketchum area and runs as far south as The Meadows Trailer Park south of Ketchum.
    All Mountain Rides bus routes are free to passengers, except for the Valley Route. Fares vary, depending upon how far a passenger travels on the system, with the maximum fare being $4 for a one-way trip between Bellevue and the Ketchum-Sun Valley area.
    The organization’s board of directors earlier this month approved a $2.4 million operating budget for fiscal year 2014, which starts on Oct. 1. The budget is only $20,000 less than the operating budget for fiscal year 2013. However, with reductions and uncertainties in future funding from the Federal Transit Administration, Mountain Rides has been looking at ways to save money by reducing service hours for the past year.
    In fiscal year 2013, Mountain Rides eliminated the Gold Route, another seasonal skier shuttle service, and reduced operation of the Red Route to peak winter and summer skier and tourist months. The Red Route connects the southern Elkhorn area to Ketchum.
    The proposed service plan would maintain the Blue Route at 8,000 hours for the year and the Red Route at 2,800 hours. The Green Route would be reduced from 2,850 hours to 2,000 hours.
    The Silver Route would be maintained at 2,600 hours while the Bronze Route would be reduced from 750 hours to 500 hours.
    The Hailey Circulator Route would be maintained at 2,000 hours.
    The popular Valley Route would have minor schedule adjustments, with elimination of routes that have “soft ridership.” According to the plan, Valley Route hours would be reduced from 9,000 hours to 8,600 hours.
Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com


Scout Your Route
Mountain Rides Transportation Authority wants to hear from the public on its bus service plan for fiscal year 2014. Two public workshops, called “Scout Your Route” events, will be held on Monday, Sept. 30. The first, intended to be focused on Ketchum-Sun Valley routes, will be held at Ketchum Town Square from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The second, to be focused on Valley Route and Hailey Circulator Route services, will be held at Hailey City Hall from
4-6 p.m.




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