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Last updated 2:47AM ET
December 11, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Road Runner Transit moves ahead
(2007-10-29)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: A survey about commuting habits of workers in La Plata county, found that of the 223 people that took the survey, about 81.5% say they drive to work each day alone.

Road Runner Transit is trying to increase its ridership, by helping La Plata County residents lessen their gas consumption.

KSUT's Sarah Baumgartner reports:


SARAH: The average price of gasoline in La Plata County is at $2.94 a gallon. With gas prices at that level Ignacio based Road Runner Transit sees 70-80 riders a day between two buses running morning, noon and early evening.

Program Developer for Southern Ute Community Action Program, Peter Tregillus says that the unscientific survey done by the Durango T along with Road Runner Transit, shows that 64.5% of those surveyed said that the price of gas has no effect on their decision to use public transit or not.

Tregillus also says the survey shows ways in which public transportation can improve and it may have been a wake up call to those who participated.

PETER TREGILLUS: I THINK PEOPLE ARE INTERESTED IN TRANSIT. THEY'D LIKE TO SEE IT BE CLEAN, BRIGHT, MORE CONVENIENT. THERE ARE A FARE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE OTHER THINGS TO DO DURING THE DAY SO A CAR IS USEFUL. BUT IN FILLING IT OUT THEY CAN SEE AND WE CAN SEE THAT THEY DON'T NEED TO TAKE A CAR EVERY DAY.

Some of the more frequent riders on the transit didn't need a survey to open their eyes on transportation in La Plata County. While riding on the bus we asked those riders what their reasons were.

RIDER 1: FOR GAS MONEY
RIDER 2: THE REASON IS SAFETY
RIDER 3: IT SAVES $10 A DAY. IT'S VERY RELAXING, THAT'S WHAT I LIKE ABOUT IT.
RIDER 4: WELL IT GIVES ME ACCESS TO LIKE THE SURROUNDING AREAS YOU KNOW BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE A CAR. AND THAT'S REALLY LIKE MY ONLY WAY OF TRANSPORTATION SO I RELY ON IT.

Currently the Road Runner transit has buses that connect Ignacio, Bayfield and Durango. By 2008 Tregillus says there's hope of adding Forest Lakes Metro district to the transit map and possibly others.

TREGILLUS: NEXT YEAR, CROSS OUR FINGERS, EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT AND WE WILL START RUNNING A SERVICE THAT WILL CONNECT FOREST LAKES TO BAYFIELD TO IGNACIO. THROUGH THE SOUTHERN UTE INDIAN TRIBE WE'VE SUBMITTED A GRANT THAT WOULD BRING IN A BUS FIVE TIMES A DAY AT A LOT OF DIFFERENT HOURS, FROM FARMINGTON, AZTEC TO IGNACIO. THIS WILL HELP THE CASINO AND OTHER TRIBAL ENTERPRISES MAINTAIN THEIR WORK FORCE. AS YOU KNOW AND A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW ITS GETTING MORE AND MORE EXPENSIVE TO LIVE HERE SO PEOPLE LIVE FURTHER AND FURTHER OUT. AND THIS WILL HELP CONNECT THE REGION ON THAT LEVEL.

Affordability seems to be a reoccurring theme for working individuals that ride the bus.
As Director of the Road Runner Transit Ron Gruele drives the afternoon route he talks about the challenges that they face is to get individuals to leave their vehicles at home.

RON GRUELE: WE'VE ACTUALLY DONE THE NUMBERS UP AND TO LOOK AND JUST SEE HOW MUCH A PERSON WOULD ACTUALLY SAVE, AND IT GETS UP INTO THE HUNDREDS IN A COUPLE OF MONTHS. AND THEN OVER A YEARS TIME YOU'RE SAVING THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS. BUT PEOPLE, WE CAN'T THEM OUT OF THEIR CARS. PEOPLE ARE SO INDEPENDENT WITH THEIR CARS

But Tregillus believes that taking public transportation is a part of the bigger picture when it comes to affordable housing in Durango.

TREGILLUS: WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR IN TOWN? $460,000.
SO IF THEY'RE LOOKING TO BE HOMEOWNERS OR INCREASINGLY EVEN RENTERS THEY LOOK FURTHER AND FURTHER OUT. WELL THE FURTHER OUT YOU LIVE THE FARTHER THAT YOU'VE GOT TO DRIVE. WHEN GAS PRICES GO UP YOU BECOME VULNERABLE. WE CAN OFFSET SOME OF THAT. WE CAN ALLOW STARTING FAMILIES STRUGGLING FAMILIES TO HANG ON TO MORE OF THEIR MONEY. THAT'S WHAT PUBLIC TRANSITS ALL ABOUT.

Road Runner Transit is funded in part by federal funds, grants, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, La Plata County, the Town of Ignacio, the Town of Bayfield and most recently Forest lakes metro district.

From KSUT - Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Sarah Baumgartner
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