Transit Study to Evaluate Current Infrastructure, Future Options

By Paolo Cisneros, The Sheridan Press, January 25, 2013. Reprinted with permission.

Advocates of public transportation in Sheridan took another step forward Thursday as representatives from the Public Transit Initiative of Sheridan County officially opened grant proposals from three firms looking to conduct a comprehensive study of transit in the area.

An informal group of concerned citizens and organizational representatives, the PTISC was recently awarded a grant of about $45,000 from the Wyoming Department of Transportation to study existing public transportation infrastructure and what might be done to improve it.

Despite the group’s strong ties to the Sheridan Senior Center, organizers said Sheridan residents of all backgrounds stand to gain from the improved transportation options.

“There are people of all ages and different income levels that public transportation could benefit,” said Senior Center Executive Director Carmen Rideout. “We want to get everybody involved.”

At the Center for a Vital Community’s recent Poverty Circles initiative, dozens of area residents pointed toward the need for increased access to transit for those living under stressed economic conditions.

Volunteers argued that by improving the transportation infrastructure of the area, residents struggling to rise out of poverty would have one less hurdle to overcome.

Currently, the Sheridan Mini-Bus provides transit on call to area residents, but PTISC organizers said the mistaken ideas about the service remain persistent.

“A lot of people think it’s just for seniors, and it’s really truly not,” Senior Center Development Director Rindy West said.

After reviewing the proposals, organizers will select a firm to carry out the study. While an end date hasn’t yet been determined, West said they hope to begin work with the consultant sometime in February.

The group looks to stay involved throughout the process by providing a local take on existing transit infrastructure and issues.

“All of those things are going to be assessed and evaluated,” West said.

Whichever consulting group the organization goes on to choose, the study will likely take into account predictions in demographic changes, existing services and shifts in transportation preferences as a means of determining what makes the most sense for Sheridan in the years to come.

“We’ve really tried to make it all encompassing,” West said.

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