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Mountain Express expands bus service

Beginning April 19, the Mountain Express will run a new route, adding a number of new destinations Archuleta County Transportation Coordinator John Egan believes people want to go to, just in time to serve a growing number of riders.

Egan said in an interview that ridership increased by about 100 people last month, which he attributes to a number of factors, such as the weather and the anticipated route changes, among others.

Egan informed the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners of the changes at the BoCC’s April 6 meeting.

The changes are an effort to make the program more viable for those needing public transportation, Egan told the BoCC.

“I’m feeling like this is a big step, and what makes it big is that it is designed to fit within the framework that we are currently offering, meaning that it does not expand our payroll, it does not expand the amount of fuel we’re using or the wear and tear on the vehicles,” Egan said. “It all fits within this original framework and, I believe, will serve the public much better.”

Egan told the commissioners he is already seeing enthusiasm for the change among regular riders and some new riders.

“When we did the cutback in ‘07, it (Mountain Express) got decimated pretty badly,” said Commissioner Bob Moomaw, “and this is just one of the steps to getting it back to where it was.”

The new route is considered temporary in order to give Egan and his crew time to make any needed adjustments before finalizing the route, something Egan estimates will take between two weeks and a month.

Among other changes, the first run of the day will begin at 6:45 a.m. in Turkey Springs, instead of at 5:30 a.m. in town. The bus will then work toward town, and will run the route twice during the morning. In the afternoon, the route will start in town and will work back toward Turkey Springs. The afternoon route will also be run twice.

The route includes a number of new stops. The new stops include eight stops daily at Pagosa Mountain Hospital, as well as stops at the Trails water station, Bonanza Avenue (in Vista), the west end of the Country Center (Alco), Pagosa Springs Inn and Suites, an additional stop in the Boulder Center in Aspen Village, two stops on Eagle Drive, on both sides of U.S. 160 near Pagosa Baking Company in downtown Pagosa Springs, at the east end of the River Center (Conoco), the west end of the River Center, on Hot Springs Boulevard, in downtown and at the downtown City Market shopping center.

Mountain Express schedules can be found at both City Market locations, the Archuleta County Courthouse, Pagosa Mountain Hospital, Pagosa Springs Town Hall, and the Chamber of Commerce.

Fare for the bus is $1 per ride.

randi@pagosasun.com