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County mulls modified bus routes
October 21, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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Scotts Bluff County will seek public input to determine if adjustments are needed to its public transportation system.

Carol Prince, Director of Operations for the county, made a presentation to county commissioners called “deviated fixed route.” Scotts Bluff County Public Transit currently runs a fixed route roughly from Dome Rock Manor in Gering to Regional West Medical Center, with stops along the way. Some of the most frequented stops include Walmart, the Harms Center at Western Nebraska Community College, local schools and the Terrytown area. The price of a one-way trip is $2 locally.

As part of the altered route, buses would run up to three-quarters of a mile off the main route into residential and other areas for an additional $1 charge per trip. Prince said Scotts Bluff County and other public transportation groups across the state have been meeting with the Nebraska Department of Roads over the past two years. The group discussed local and regional transportation needs.

Scotts Bluff County is a major public transportation provider in the area with a fleet of 11 vehicles providing service on demand. The service runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday with an annual budget of about $340,000 from federal, state and local sources to keep the service going.

An estimated 30,900 riders board the buses each year. With the adjusted route, ridership could potentially increase to about 45,000. “On a deviated route, people would need to call the day before to request service,” Prince told the county board. “We’re proposing to run from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but we can discuss that. We’d have four vehicles on the deviated route, all running at the same time. All our vehicles are handicap accessible.”

It would cost more than a million dollars to implement the new routes, but much of that would be paid for through federal and state dollars. The county’s 10 percent participation amounts to about $100,900.

Prince said the routes still haven’t been finalized yet, and she proposed scheduling public hearings in early November to get input whether the changed routes are needed, which directions they should go, and if the public would use the service. If the new routes are well received, the county could begin service in September 2017.

Also at its October 17 meeting, county commissioners named Darla Simpson, who has been a paralegal for almost 30 years, Clerk of the District Court.
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