Mountain Rides’ fare-free pilot bus route to Twin Falls will run through the end of 2021, the organization announced on Friday after receiving a significant funding contribution from the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation.
The highly anticipated service officially launched at 8:15 a.m. on Monday morning with a southbound bus from Dollar Circle in Sun Valley. Though open to anyone, the service is intended for those in the Wood River Valley with medical appointments in Twin Falls, and vice-versa.
“The service is designed to meet the non-emergency medical transportation needs of the people in the Wood River Valley and surrounding rural communities,” Mountain Rides stated on Friday. “We will begin collecting data on the accessibility and quality of the service starting day one.”
Northbound and southbound buses run mornings and afternoons on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Stops are located at the Limelight Hotel, St. Luke’s Wood River Hospital in Ketchum, Hailey’s Park & Ride station, downtown Bellevue at Main and Spruce Streets, Timmerman Junction, Shoshone’s Sawtooth Market, the Twin Falls Visitor Center and St. Luke’s Magic Valley Hospital in Twin Falls.
The twice-daily service was initially made possible by a $30,000 grant from the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center last September. Having secured a seven-month extension, Mountain Rides is now looking to extend the pilot for a full 1.5-year period, the organization stated last week.
“It is a significant step in helping our citizens, especially our veterans, in receiving the necessary health-care that they may need,” said Sun Valley Mayor Peter Hendricks, a Mountain Rides board member, in a previous council meeting.