Citylink service reduction, other changes planned

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A Citylink bus travels along its route Tuesday in Coeur d'Alene. The bus system is need of additional funding to maintain its current schedule and bus fleet.

Citing a lack of financial sustainability and low ridership on some routes, some big changes are being considered for the county's Citylink transit service.

Citylink is a partnership among several agencies. The county owns the vans, but the Tribe and federal grants are the lone funding sources for operations.

Other agencies assist. For example, local chambers spearheaded a bus bench project that secured donations to get the benches built, installed and sponsored.

Local municipalities contributed a combined $87,000 toward public transportation this year, but only paratransit services receive the funds. Paratransit service is transportation provided to people who are eligible under the Americans with Disability Act.

Public Open House - Citylink Service Reduction
March 21
4-6 p.m.
Kootenai County Administration Building
Meeting Room 1A
451 N. Government Way, Coeur d'Alene

The following summary of the planned changes and questions and answers about the proposal is published here as posted on the KMPO Transportation Blog.

"What do the changes look like? Major service changes are as follows:

Citylink bus service will end at 10 p.m., seven days a week.

The “A” route, which currently runs out to Stateline, will be eliminated.

The “B” route will be reconfigured to pick up many of the riders who used to rely on the “A” Route.

Citylink will still serve Post Falls from Riverstone on Seltice and Mullan Avenue north and south of Interstate 90.

Service will be expanded north of Mullan Avenue on Idaho Street to Poleline, then Poleline to Spokane Street to serve the residential area and to access the Post Falls Library.

Two-way service will be provided between Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Hayden eliminating much of the current loop routing.

More bus stops will be added along the routes, which will make transit access more convenient for riders.

By providing more stops along the fixed routes, this may decrease the distance riders have to walk to their final destination and provide better access to service.

With more stops, the ridership may also redistribute to the new bus stops, thereby making loading and unloading at each stop quicker and easier.

Buses will no longer go directly into the NIC campus. Transit stops will be provided on Northwest Boulevard at Hubbard and Mullan Avenues.

We have increased the frequency of the routes to provide hourly service as opposed to the current 85 minutes per trip.

The Link Route will provide easy two way (both inbound and outbound from Riverstone) access to the Kootenai Medical Center campus.

Citylink routes and stops will no longer use private property, which reduces potential liabilities, and travel time.

With the reduction in transit service area, the boundary of the Paratransit service area will also be reduced to coincide with the changes in routing and hours of service. This change will impact some current users of the paratransit service.

If you do not live within the new paratransit service area, but are eligible for paratransit service, you may still use the service if you are able to get to a connecting location within the paratransit service area. Please note that your ride outside of the paratransit service area will need to be your responsibility.

There are no changes contemplated for the Kootenai Medical Center transit service.

Why is Citylink changing?

Citylink has not been a financially sustainable system for several years. These changes will allow us to bring the transit system in line with the funding available. And it creates a good building block for us to expand the system in the future as funding increases.

How and why were these changes chosen?

We looked at ridership numbers to determine where Citylink is used the most and attempted to make changes in a way that affected the fewest riders.

These proposed changes allow us to achieve the required cost savings while maintaining as much service as we can in the highest population centers.

We have used what we’ve learned over the past several years to make improvements to the system, such as:

Adding approximately 125 more bus stops to the system.

Adding more two way service on the routes.

Decreasing wait time for riders by providing more frequent service.

Again, it is important to remember that this will be a sustainable building block upon which we can grow the system as more funding becomes available.

When will changes be implemented?

The changes are tentatively set to take place in mid to late April.

Where can riders get more information about the changes?

An electronic version of the proposed changes is available on the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization website at www.kmpo.net.

A public open house will be held March 21 from 4-6 p.m. at the Kootenai County Administration Building on the first floor in Meeting Room 1A (451 N. Government Way, CdA).

How do people submit comments regarding the changes?

Written comments can be submitted to:

Kootenai County Board of Commissioners, 451 North Government Way, PO Box 9000, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83816-9000. Written public comments will be received until March 28.

Quick numbers on Citylink riders:

From February 2011-February 2012, an average of 48,200 people rode Citylink routes each month. Sixty-three percent of those riders rode the urban routes (A, B, and C routes in Post Falls, CdA and Hayden). Thirty-seven percent of riders rode the Link and Rural routes to Worley, Plummer, Tensed and DeSmet. In 2011, Citylink provided approximately 575,731 trips.

Quick numbers on Citylink Paratransit riders:

Since paratransit service startup in July of 2011, ridership has grown to nearly 1,000 trips per month."

Citylink's most recent ridership numbers can be viewed here.

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