SunTran bus service expanding to Ivins

ST. GEORGE – The SunTran bus will become a regular sight in Ivins in late 2014 or early 2015 with the finalization and approval of an agreement between St. George and Ivins.

Interlocal agreement between cities

It’s a bit of (an) experiment but one that I think will prove worthwhile,” Ivins Mayor Chris Hart said. Ivins has been looking at a way to provide bus service for the last three years, he said.

We conducted an informal survey over two years ago that revealed that there were a number of our residents that needed the service and would use it regularly,” Hart said.

As St. George oversees SunTran’s operations, the two municipalities discussed how expansion of busing services would be established. Ultimately, Ivins agreed to purchase a $370,000 bus that will be dedicated to the Ivins route, invest $122,000 for the first year of use followed by $27,000 annually.

The cost of starting a new bus route is estimated to actually be around $600,000. However, this amount is largely being offset by federal grants.

The St. George City Council heard details of the interlocal agreement between their city and Ivins in their June 13 workshop meeting, and unanimously voted to approve the agreement in their June 20 meeting. 

At the St. George end, service into Ivins will start at Sunset Corner and travel down Snow Canyon Parkway. Where the bus will be stopping in Ivins is still under review, but currently various stops along the route are being proposed.

Presently we’re looking at a route that includes stops at Red Mountain Resort, Vista School, Snow Canyon Clinic, the Veterans Nursing Home and then additional stops on 200 East and Main Street from 200 North to 600 South,” Hart said.   “I’d like to see Tuacahn High School added if it could be and we’ll no doubt discover others after service begins in late 2014 or early 2015.”

Unlike busing service in St. George, with runs continuously from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, the Ivins route will only run four to six times a day; two-three times each in the morning and the afternoon.

Like the St. George routes, the Ivins route will be a 40-minute loop. Bus fare will also be the same. Details on bus fare can be found on the SunTran website.

As more residents try the service over time and find out how convenient it is, I have no doubt that the ridership will grow,” Hart said. “It’s a very practical alternative to driving.”

Continued expansion?

Talk of expanding bus routes into Santa Clara, Ivins, Hurricane and Washington has been discussed in the past, though thus far only Ivins has moved forward with the idea by securing an interlocal agreement with St. George and budgeting for the new route.

This could change depending on how financially feasible a new bus route may be and how much public support there is for the idea.

On YourWashington.org, a website that provides Washington residents with a forum where they can connect with local government by posting issues, suggestions and concerns online, two of the more popular posts made by residents focus on bringing SunTran service to Washington streets.

Washington Mayor Ken Neilson said he supported the idea, but that it is “also a matter of funding.”

If Washington budgeted for a commuter route similar to what Ivins has, it too could be investing $122,000 for the first year and $27,000 each year following. A bus would also need to be purchased for the route, and that could run between $140,000 to $370,000 depending on the size and model.

Still, Neilson said, “we want to give the people all the access (to Washington city) they can get.”

A proposed route into Washington would likely start at the drop-off point at Deseret Industries. If SunTran were eventually brought to the city, Neilson said he would like to see stops at the Wal-Mart shopping center, the Washington City Community Center and possibly a stop in the Coral Canyon area.

It would be nice to have,” Neilson said.

Presently there are no funds available in Washington’s 2013-14 city budget for a SunTran commuter route and its associated costs. Should the public continue to support the idea on YourWashington.org, there is a possibility the city council will address the issue directly during a future meeting.

SunTran

SunTran started service in 2003. Fred Davis, City of St. George transit manager, said 60,000 rides were taken on the buses that first year alone. In 2012, up to 500,000 rides were taken.

Recently Davies spent up to eight hours riding on the four bus routes offered in St. George and took note of who used the service and found thre really is no stereotypical bus rider. SunTran is “serving a wide clientele,” he said.

While on the bus, Davies said he noticed a wide array of individuals who use city’s public transportation. He said he observed several middle class individuals using the bus on their way to work; young people with bicycles who placed their two-wheeled transportation on the bike rack and rode to their next location; as well as some elderly; and others.

There is a full-spectrum of riders who use the bus,” he said.

A survey of 550 SunTran riders was also recently compiled. According to the survey: 76 percent of riders use SunTran as their sole means of transportation around St. George; 86 percent of riders are satisfied with the busing service; and 90 percent of riders want an expansion of service.

SunTran bus routes have also been incorporated into Google Maps. Now, either through a computer or mobile device, people can access Google Maps and click on the bus icon and it will give them the details they need related to bus travel in St. George.

Related posts

 

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

 

suntran-ivins

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.