Cuts to the city’s transit routes will start in May instead of April, Durango City Councilors agreed Tuesday.
The new date was one of a few tweaks to a larger plan to cut two transit routes that the councilors informally agreed to during a work session. Budget shortfalls are driving the decision to cut two bus routes that serve Three Springs, U.S. Highway 160 west and Crestview.
Pushing back the start date for the cuts from April 1 to May 7 will ensure that changes don’t happen mid-semester for Fort Lewis College students, Assistant City Manager Amber Blake said.
“It will be an easier adjustment,” she said.
FLC students pay for a transit pass as part of their student fees, and they make up about a quarter of the city’s riders.
The city also plans to change how often the trolley stops along Main Avenue from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes, Blake said. The change will allow two buses instead of three to serve the Main Avenue route and the Walmart route, she said.
“It’s been a lesson in efficiency in terms of maximizing the existing routes,” City Councilor Dean Brookie said.
As part of the changes after May 7, all buses on all routes will run from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. seven days a week, year-round, and they will serve stops every 30 minutes. The transit service previously had seasonal schedules.
“The system will be simplified,” she said.
The reduction in service is needed because the Colorado Department of Transportation is redistributing grant funding, which will result in several years of major transit funding cuts for the city.
The city plans to maintain some service to Mercy Regional Medical Center through an agreement with Road Runner, a service of the Southern Ute Community Action Programs.
Road Runner will stop at the hospital six times a day, and riders would not need to pay an additional fare to board Road Runner.
The city’s door-to-door service for those with disabilities and the elderly, known as Dial-A-Ride or the Opportunity Bus, will have expanded hours as a result of the changes. The door-to-door service hours will mirror the city’s other seven-day-a-week service.
“I do anticipate we will see an increase in use,” Blake said.
While the city is planning to sell a few of its buses after the routes are cut. It plans to put many in storage, so that they are ready in case the city can rebuild its transit service, she said.