It is still a work in progress, but organizers of the Yavapai Regional Transit program say the tri-city public transit system will definitely become a reality - albeit on a phased-in basis.
In late June, the
fledgling group got word from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) that it would receive the requested $400,000 grant - setting the stage for a regional system by Oct. 1.
The award of the grant culminated months of effort, but organizers of Yavapai Regional Transit (YRT) say plenty of the work still remains.
For instance, the source for a portion of the $127,000 local match is still undetermined.
"We're about two-thirds of the way there," YRT organizer Ron Romley said of the local match.
The organization continues to solicit contributions from businesses, organizations, and individuals.
The regional transit system will be a public-private partnership that will combine federal transit money with a collaborative effort by Chino Valley Transit and New Horizons Independent Living Center of Prescott Valley.
When the Town of Chino Valley announced last year that it would be easing out of its transit program, the regional effort stepped in to fill what organizers see as a public-transit gap in the community.
The ADOT grant becomes effective on Oct. 1, and Romley and other organizers are gearing up for the changes that will come.
For instance, the organization has ordered two new buses, which will help the system expand its service between Prescott and Chino Valley.
Currently, Chino Valley Transit runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., offering service within Chino Valley on Mondays and Wednesdays, and between Chino Valley and Prescott on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
YRT organizer Cheri Romley said an early goal of the regional system is to add Friday service, and expand the operating hours.
"The longer days will give us a little more ridership," Cheri Romley said.
The program will add other new services and features as it is able, say the organizers.
"We've decided to phase it in, because we need to sit back and look and make sure we can provide the best service," Ron Romley said. "Our goal is to have something new every quarter."
After expanding the routes between Chino Valley and Prescott, organizers say another future step would involve adding a link to Prescott Valley.
Eventually, Transit Manager Ed Steinback said, the system could add a local route within Prescott Valley. He added that the needs of the public would help to guide the development of the system.
"We need to listen to the riders," Steinback said.
Organizers say the tri-city system ultimately will offer public transit service five days a week, 12 hours a day, with buses serving the various stops every hour and a half.
Throughout the life of Chino Valley Transit and the development of the YRT, volunteers have fueled the system, providing administration, driving, and fundraising help.
That will continue with the regional system, say organizers.
About $30,000 of the local match will come in the form of volunteer hours - or "in-kind" contributions, said Steinback.
"When you've got a passion and see the good that it does, that's what drives it," Ron Romley said.
To accommodate its unique public-private makeup, YRT consists
of two separate non-profit entities - a 501(C)4 for
the operational aspects, and a 501(C)3 for the fundraising arm.
Local resident Bob Viscount serves as the chairman of 501(C)3 board and will be involved with fundraising.
The public transit system will be open to the community, and will have a fare of $2 for the general public, and $1 for those who are disabled, or 60 and older.