— For more information on how to give input on the matter of public transportation, contact Moffat County United Way Community Impact Coordinator Amanda Arnold at 970-826-2039 or amanda@unitedwaym...
Getting from Point A to Point B can be difficult for people who have limited options in transportation, and at certain times of the year, getting around without your own wheels is nearly impossible. This is a problem groups around Northwest Colorado seek to remedy.
Moffat County United Way hosted a meeting Thursday at the Moffat County School District administration building to discuss the need for public transportation within Craig.
United Way’s Executive Director Corrie Ponikvar and Community Impact Coordinator Amanda Arnold said they have had several such meetings recently to get the wheels rolling on the discussion, this time bringing together members of city and county government, as well as members of service organizations and community members who have been involved with transporting people around town in various capacities.
When she first began in her position last July, Arnold met with 25 different agencies about the needs of the community.
“One of the questions I asked was, ‘What are the gaps in the community that you see?’ and 23 said transportation, so we wanted to facilitate that,” she said.
While Craig and Moffat County are not without transportation opportunities, the majority of them are very “specialized,” Arnold said.
Affordable resources are prevalent for senior citizens, with outlets such as the Moffat County Housing Authority’s bus for local seniors to get out and about in the community.
Also, groups like Moffat County Human Service Volunteers provide a network of people ready to give a lift to those in need.
Coordinator Jamie Daszkiewicz said HSV originally was founded in the 1980s with the intent of helping those who needed specialized medical care outside the area travel wherever necessary. Today, it’s open to a wider group of people, some of whom may just need a ride to an appointment within city limits on a given day.
However, if Craig had a regular transportation system, Daszkiewicz said, it would allow the group to focus its resources on lengthier trips.
Daszkiewicz and numerous others at the meeting said an inexpensive source of transportation for low-income residents would be beneficial to the area, particularly for people living on the outskirts of town, such as locations like Columbine Apartments.
Many in attendance noted that residents without their own cars often can be seen walking along U.S. Highway 40 to buy groceries. Some just shop at the local convenience stores and forgo the availability of fresh produce and a wider selection of food simply because the walk is too great, especially in the winter.
Craig Thornhill, of Mind Springs Health, said he has encountered numerous patients whose lack of a car and inability to afford a taxi ride has resulted in missed appointments or necessary prescriptions that never get filled, which ultimately can have an effect on many other people.
“It ripples into the ERs, it ripples into my crisis staff, it ripples into VNA (Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association), even law enforcement,” he said.
Others at the meeting added that the layout of Craig can make it difficult to get to a number of locations, including The Memorial Hospital, Colorado Northwestern Community College, the Boys & Girls Club of Craig and other spots hard to travel to or from on foot in a reasonable timeframe, limiting many parts of residents’ lives.
City Manager Jim Ferree said the idea of public transportation within city limits was last seriously discussed about a decade ago, with Craig deciding the cost would outweigh the benefits. Even so, with the changes in the area within the past 10 years, he thinks new information might show a greater demand is now present.
Ferree said hard data submitted by local groups and individuals about how the lack of public transit has affected Craig would be the first step to perform a study on the matter.
A study provided by Colorado Department of Transportation, would be “fairly inexpensive,” Ferree said, estimating somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000.
If a study shows Craig has significant need for a public transit system, a solid statistical analysis provided by people on the local level would enhance the likelihood of finding state or federal subsidies, Ferree said.
“It might be worth our while,” he said.
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.