As fuel prices follow national trends and continue to rise here in the Castle Valley, state agencies such as the Utah Department of Transportation are working to alleviate travel cost wherever possible while simultaneously increasing the availability of public transportation. Last week, UDOT's Jason Green approached the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments Economic Development District to seek support for inner city bus service moving through the local community.
In 2009, UDOT completed an inner city bus study study which identified transportation demand within Utah and confirmed the inclusion of an in-kind match from Greyhound concerning new routes.
Since completing the study, UDOT has implemented a route along U.S. Highway 40, in conjunction with Colorado, which links Salt Lake City and Denver, Colo. According to Green, this route has seen major success, prompting the department to consider requests for proposal (RFP) concerning two other routes identified within the study. The first would link Richfield with Moroni and Fairview along U.S. Highway 89, the second would increase inner city bus service here in Castle Country.
"Of interest to you would be an RFP for a new route from Blanding on U.S. Highway 191 to Green River and up U.S. Highway 6 to Price and potentially beyond," explained Green. "Or to amend that, and look at going up State Road 10 instead of Highway 6. I'm not here for a formal buy-in today, but I would hope to find that the association does have support for inner-city bus service going through this community."
Green went on to explain that while Greyhound buses are typically the most common form of transport thought of when dealing with inner-city bus, the newest routes proposed may use a large van or smaller bus as the program begins.
"The type of vehicle used will actually be up to those who come forward when the department issues their request for proposal," said Green.
The UDOT official also went on to explain that the in-kind match provided by Greyhound within this program essentially means that there will be no local cost to the communities which tend to benefit the most from the service.
In terms of the in-kind match the proposed services would also have to feed into existing Greyhound bus stops or locations.
According to Green, in lieu of funds the local community would be expected to support the projects as well as work with those submitting proposals in order to identify the areas which would best be served by bus service.
"This could provide a wonderful service to your community to connect your area to Salt Lake City, Provo and beyond since you would be connecting to national Greyhound routes," explained Green. "We are looking to provide the maximum ridership and with your help I think this would be a great route for all parties involved."
After hearing his proposal, the association questioned Green about existing bus services, asking if new bus services would affect the current routes.
"What Greyhound gets out of this increased service is increased ridership through additional trips and some increased access," he stated. "For example, the possibility of moving a new route from Interstate 70 along State Road 10 through Emery County toward Price."
Green did stipulate that he was only at the meeting to gauge interest and to answer questions, explaining that the project would not catch any real traction until the requests for proposal were submitted, green lit by the local communities and returned to UDOT.