WRTA expanding service to include Dubois and Jackson

Mar 25, 2013 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Wind River Transportation Authority is finalizing stops for a fixed route from eastern Fremont County to Dubois and Jackson three days a week. WRTA transportation manager Ben Eastmond told government officials about the bus's schedule at a Fremont County Association of Governments meeting March 14.

"I think it's going to go a long way to tie the residents of Fremont County together," Eastmond said.

The new fixed route will run Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, leaving in the morning and returning in the afternoon from June 4 to September 30. It will start in Riverton and stop in Lander, Fort Washakie, Dubois, Moran Junction, Moose and Jackson.

WRTA has solicited input on where to stop in Lander, Riverton and Dubois via paper surveys on its buses and a Facebook poll. The only suggestion for Dubois so far is the Headwaters Community Arts and Conference Center.

The frontrunner in Lander is the Noble Hotel, and the leaders in Riverton are the Riverton Senior Citizens Center and Central Wyoming College.

At the FCAG meeting, Dubois mayor Twila Blakeman said a drawback to the Headwaters Center is it is not always open, but she said it does have room for the bus to pull into its parking lot and a covered porch where passengers could wait.

"If people have other suggestions I'm open to them," Eastmond said.

He advised people to express their opinions via the Facebook polls.

In Fort Washakie, the stop will be Rocky Mountain Hall, in Moose it will be the visitor's center. The bus will stop at the airport in Jackson and the town's bus depot.

Noting that other WRTA buses stop at Rocky Mountain Hall, Eastmond said stopping there will help the new route tie into the local bus network there.

At Moran Junction, the WRTA bus will connect with the Linx bus system, which runs to and around Yellowstone National Park. Eastmond envisions the additional route will enable people from Lander and Riverton to travel easily to Dubois, and it will enable Dubois residents to come down to Riverton for shopping.

Between the new route and the Linx buses, Fremont County residents will be able to make a weekend trip to Yellowstone without using their car, he said.

Riding on the new route will cost $25 from anywhere east of Dubois to Dubois, and $25 more to go from Dubois to any point west. Passengers transferring at Moran Junction to a Linx bus would have to buy another ticket.

The route's bus will seat 31 passengers and will have a Thule rack on the front with space for bikes.

WRTA currently runs buses between Riverton, Hudson, Lander, Kinnear, Fort Washakie and Arapahoe. The bus company does make on demand runs to Jackson, but they cost $150 for a one-way ticket.

The fixed route offers more advantages than just a cheaper price to points west.

Passengers will not have to reserve bus tickets in advance to make a special trip, Eastmond said.

"If you decide on the spur of the moment, you can decide to go up to do some shopping in Jackson," he said.

A grant from the Wyoming Department of Transportation, which the Yellowstone Business Council administers, will subsidize the route but will not cover the whole cost.

Eastmond said the grant is for one year, but may be renewed in the future. He hopes to see if a Fremont County-Jackson bus route is economically viable this year.

WRTA will still offer the on demand service for people who need to travel at times outside of the planned fixed route's schedule.

Passengers will be able to buy tickets online at the Linx website, from the WRTA, in person at the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce or the Moran Junction Chamber of Commerce.

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