The city will save nearly $1 million by cutting bus routes serving Three Springs and Crestview starting April 1.
The transit system is cutting its 2018 budget because the Colorado Department of Transportation is redistributing grants, which will result in several years of funding cuts for the city. Even before grant funding was cut, the city was finding it tough to pay for services and spending the department’s reserves.
The two routes that will be eliminated serve Three Springs, U.S. Highway 160 west and Crestview. The Highway 160 and Crestview route currently has stops in the neighborhoods northwest of downtown Durango and west on Highway 160 to Wildcat Condos.
The route that serves Fort Lewis College will also be changed, Assistant City Manager Amber Blake told city councilors Tuesday.
An agreement between the city and Road Runner, a Southern Ute Community Action Programs may preserve some service to Three Springs and Mercy Regional Medical Center, with minimal cost to the city, Assistant Director of Transportation Sarah Dodson said. The city is negotiating a memorandum of understanding with Road Runner to provide that service.
On Tuesday, the Durango City Council commended Blake and the transit department’s efforts to keep service to some of the most highly frequented stops and Three Springs.
“I think it’s really a timely evolution of a transit system,” Councilor Dean Brookie said.
Road Runner will offer trips between Mercy and the Transit Center six times a day. Road Runner’s fare is $1.50, but riders would not need to pay again to board a Durango Transit bus.
The city chose to keep these routes based on feedback from riders and ridership data.
The most highly used routes serve Main Avenue, Fort Lewis College and Walmart.
Despite budget cuts, the city will maintain the Opportunity Bus service, that provides door-to-door transportation for seniors people with disabilities.
The trolley will serve stops every 20 minutes along Main Avenue, from downtown to Iron Horse Inn on the north end of town. The Fort Lewis College and Walmart routes will serve stops every 30 minutes.
The Fort Lewis route will continue to stop at Lumien Apartments on Animas Village Drive and Valle de Merced on Goeglein Gulch. The city also added service on the route to serve Island Cove Park near Florida Road and Tamarin Square senior apartments on East Third Avenue. The Fort Lewis route will no longer stop at north City Market or the Sunshine Gardens senior housing on east 32nd Street. But the trolley will continue to stop at north City Market and the Opportunity Bus, which provides door-to-door service, will go to and from Sunshine Gardens, Dodson said.
To help serve FLC students on their morning commute, the city plans to create an express route that will serve the stop at North College Drive and Florida Road at 7:30 a.m. and go directly to the college.
As part of the changes, the city expects to eliminate its summer and winter schedules and instead operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, year-round. This will include door-to-door service for those with disabilities. Currently, buses do not run on Sundays in the winter, and the trolley service ends at 7 p.m.
“The service that we’re providing with these reductions is a really great place to start, so that hopefully in the future, we can build out the transit system to meet the vision that the community asked for during the multimodal planning process,” Blake said.
The Multimodal Transportation Plan updated in 2016 called for expanded transit service.
The city offered to sell one of its buses to the La Plata County and Animas High School and the high school is interested in purchasing a bus that could be used for field trips and daily transportation, Blake said.