Expanded public transportation service will be available to and from Lawson Hill and Rico “as soon as possible,” according to Amy Levek, SMART interim director.
The additional routes and times should be available to riders by the end of November, Levek said.
SMART, or the San Miguel Authority for Regional Transporation, unanimously approved pilot programs in the two areas during its regular board meeting on Tuesday.
For Lawson Hill, Galloping Goose service will be extended on weekday evenings between 6-10 p.m. Buses will run between Telluride and Lawson Hill every 30 minutes, according to Telluride transit manager Jason White. The bus will stop in Upper Lawson Hill.
On the weekends, buses will leave every 30 minutes between 7-10 a.m. and from 4:30-10 p.m. The extended Lawson Hill service will be free to riders; the additional times and routes will cost up to $57,000 annually, White said.
Additional staffing is always an issue, especially during off-season, but it will not derail the pilot program.
“We will do what we say we’re going to do,” White said. “I want to make this as smooth as a transition for the community as possible.”
The Rico route will be brand new. SMART recently purchased a 2005 Dodge Sprinter van from the Town of Mountain Village, which seats up to 10 people, to serve it. The van will stop at San Bernardo and Ophir as well.
The “Southern Route,” as it has been dubbed, will be available five days a week in order to assist employees outside of Telluride and Mountain Village in getting to work on time. The van will leave from Rico at 7:15 a.m. and depart from Telluride at 5:30 p.m. Stops will be made between each destination, including Lawson Hill.
The Southern Route service could cost riders as much as $2 per trip, Levek said, but the price hasn’t been officially determined.
The pilot programs will be evaluated at the end of the spring off-season. At that point, changes may be made, including adjusting times or adding more routes.
Citing a recent transportation survey, Levek said Lawson Hill residents were “overwhelmingly in support of increased service.” (Indeed, 68 percent said that they would use the Goose more often if service became available later in the day.)
A brief mention about charging for the expanded Lawson Hill service resulted in a discussion of the ride-for-free mentality.
“If it’s free, it’ll get used more,” said Sean Murphy, SMART board member and Telluride mayor.
After the pilot program resolution passed, it was met with applause from the two dozen audience members. (Newly elected councilmembers Geneva Shaunette and Tom Watkinson also attended the meeting.)
Levek provided an update on the Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) between San Miguel County and Telluride.
She explained that the IGA will go in front of the Board of County Commissioners during the board’s Dec. 6 meeting.
“There haven’t been any glitches,” she said.
As for Telluride, Murphy and Telluride Councilman Todd Brown decided that the IGA will be on the town’s Nov. 28 meeting agenda. (The IGA will be initially discussed during a work session in the morning and then voted on as an action item in the afternoon, according to Murphy.)
Mountain Village previously approved the IGA. All IGAs must be approved by the New Year.
The budget will be up for discussion and adoption at the board’s Dec. 7 meeting. The meeting will be the first for recently hired SMART Executive Director David Averill, of Fort Collins. (Levek will officially pass the leadership baton to Averill on Nov. 27.)
Levek said she’s been in contact with Averill about the transition, and he requested that she remain available for at least two months after he takes over.
Board members agreed that it would be beneficial to have Levek introduce Averill into the community.
“I think it’s good you’ll be there a couple months,” said board member Dan Caton, a Mountain Village councilman.