This summer, Cities Area Transit asked public transportation users to send its staff feedback on proposed changes to the Grand Forks and East Grand Forks bus system.
One of the major changes is converting from a safe-corner system to a designated-stop system. The conversion is expected to be complete by late August. Until then, residents who wish to ride the bus can wave one down from any safe corner in the cities.
Some residents supported the change.
“I’m pleased to see the designated stop model moving forward. It’s logical, sensible, and should yield noticeable improvements quickly,” wrote one.
But you can’t please everybody.
“I hope that you will continue to pick people up every block and not make people walk two or three blocks to catch the bus… It is the bus driver’s responsibility to pick up people and it is the bus’s job to serve the people of Grand Forks,” another wrote.
CAT officials have said in the past that the move will save the organization money.
Costs for extensions
Also among the submissions, a few users asked the agency to consider extending its hours at night and running on Sundays.
“My only request is to extend the times the buses run. I would like to see buses run later into the evening (yes, I do know there is one evening bus) and on Sundays. What about people that work Sundays (or go to church) or evenings? ,” wrote one user.
CAT says sure, if there was more money available.
“CAT will extend the hours of service as funding allows,” the agency wrote back.
The cost for an hour of bus service per year is $19,000. An hour of Dial-A-Ride service is $11,000. The agency is required by law to provide Dial-A-Ride services when the buses are running.
That means each hour of public transportation costs $30,000 a year. Here are three bus extension options and their associated costs.
Scenario 1: Extend the Night Route to 11:00 p.m. = $30,000 per year
Scenario 2: Extend the regular CAT routes to 7:00 p.m. and the Night Route to 11:00 p.m. = $140,000 per year
Scenario 3: Extend bus service to Sundays (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) = $207,000 per year
How much the service can expand will depend on what the city’s 2014 budget holds. You can view more public feedback on the bus system and its proposed changes here.