Daily bus service between Western Slope transportation hubs Durango and Grand Junction is scheduled to begin Tuesday.
No commercial carrier has served that corridor since Greyhound ended its Salt Lake City-Albuquerque route, which included Grand Junction and Durango, in September 2011.
The Southern Ute Community Action Programs announced Friday that it will pick up the slack with one round trip a day, seven days a week, between Durango and Grand Junction.
One-way fare for the motor coach service by Road Runner Stage Lines is $40. The bus leaves Durango at 7 a.m. and reaches Grand Junction at 12:43 p.m. The return trip leaves at 1:45 p.m. and arrives in Durango at 7:44 p.m.
“Rural transportation is growing nationwide,” said Peter Tregillus, the SUCAP program developer. “We’ve received calls for a year about this particular service.”
SUCAP received $220,000 in federal and state money to buy two motor coaches and prepare them for service.
Federal Transportation Administration money funneled through the Colorado Department of Transportation will cover operational costs up to $245,000 annually above fare revenue.
Private enterprise offers coach service in other rural areas, Tregillus said. Greyhound serves Grand Junction-Denver; Black Hills Stage Lines covers Alamosa to Denver; and the Chaffee Shuttle runs between Gunnison, Salida and Pueblo, he said.
SUCAP approached CDOT about replacing the Colorado portion of the Greyhound route shortly after that carrier pulled out, Tregillus said.
Sidny Zink, state transportation commissioner for Region 5, which includes Durango, said in a statement that the SUCAP plan highlights what can be done through cooperative effort.
“It took time and tenacity to make it happen, but it did,” Zink said.
Clayton Richter, director of SUCAP’s Road Runner Transportation program, said, “We are very happy to be starting service July 15 with experienced drivers. We would like to thank the city of Durango for entering into a lease with SUCAP, so riders can use the Durango Transit Center.”
The Road Runner Stage Lines coach will make nine stops between Durango and Grand Junction. All stops will be in cities or towns, he said.
No one can flag down the bus in mid-route, he said.
At first, riders may buy tickets from the driver with cash (exact amount) or with a credit or debit card. Soon riders will be able to buy tickets online at www.roadrunnerstagelines.com. Information about fare and schedules may be found at www.sucap.org.
Passengers to Southwest Colorado destinations served by Road Runner may purchase tickets online at www.greyhound.com.