The wheels are starting to turn in an effort to provide better transportation to the people of Moffat County.
— 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...
A group organized by Moffat County United Way had its second meeting Thursday afternoon, building on what they had first discussed in January, namely determining the need for public transit within Craig and its outlying areas.
Since that gathering, Community Impact Coordinator Amanda Arnold has received plentiful data from local and regional agencies about the people they serve who have trouble getting around town.
For instance, in February, Love INC assisted 33 families with the matter of transportation. In 2013, Human Service Volunteers provided transport both in and out of town for 124 people for a total of 433 rides.
Likewise, the Moffat County Senior Bus provided 6,200 rides to people ages 60 and older, as well as younger residents of the Moffat County Housing Authority with physical handicaps.
However, it’s the people who don’t qualify for assistance from such programs that need to weigh in, Arnold said.
“Our real question is before we put a lot of energy and resources into transportation, we want to make sure it’s a need,” she said.
Though there are clearly people who would be well-served by a public transit system in the area, definitive figures regarding those who really have no other options in their mobility because of low income or other hardships have been difficult.
The other part of it is determining what kind of arrangement would be most beneficial to Craig and how it would be funded, but at this point, assessing the need is still the top priority before the idea can move in any direction.
City Manager Jim Ferree said he has spoken with representatives of Colorado Department of Transportation about grant funding for a study to evaluate Craig’s demographics in the subject, updating a study already done in 2003.
Craig needs to be serious and focused about its objectives before pursuing any kind of state or federal funds, Ferree said.
Another route may also make the process easier.
Corrie Ponikvar, director of United Way, said she plans to look further into funding opportunities from CDOT to establish a more official group: a Local or Regional Coordinating Council. An LCC or RCC, which could be funded anywhere between $5,000 and $30,000, would allow more oversight of transportation in a given area.
United Way would likely take the lead on fulfilling the duties of coordinating an LCC, should funding be rewarded, Ponikver said.
“We really want to get to the nuts and bolts of ‘What are our needs?’” she said.
United Way will host another transportation meeting at 12:30 p.m. April 17 at the Moffat County School District administration building, 775 Yampa Ave.
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.