Grant will boost transit planning

ALAMOSA — Efforts to improve transit options in the San Luis Valley have received a big boost from a grant awarded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Transportation, through the FTA, announced that the Chaffee Shuttle will receive funding through the Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE) Program. According to the FTA, the HOPE Program is intended to help areas of persistent poverty increase access to jobs and healthcare through enhanced transit options and improved facilities. The grant was one of 25 HOPE grants awarded nationally.

“It’s important that we not only plan new services, but figure out ways to fund those services,” said Hank Martin, executive director of the Chaffee Shuttle. “Paper planning is meaningless without a realistic financial plan to implement those services. The HOPE grant will help us do both.”

These projects will focus on providing residents access jobs and vital community services, addressing some of the disparities and unique challenges facing rural areas.

“We are excited about the grant award and give credit to, Sophia Maes, our Americorps VISTA for the San Luis Valley Development Group, who wrote the grant application and worked earlier this year on transit planning in the San Luis Valley,” said Kevin Wilkins, executive director of the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group.

While the Chaffee Shuttle will receive and manage the funds, the San Luis Valley Regional Transit Council will help guide a chosen consultant and to make sure the grant funds are used to the greatest benefit of the Valley.

The Chaffee Shuttle will receive grant funds to plan and finance expansion of transit services between and within the San Luis Valley Transportation Planning Region, which includes Alamosa, Chaffee, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, Saguache counties. The region, notably, has limited resources and a high poverty rate.

The Shuttle plans to use results from recent community surveys to identify routes and improve connections to jobs and essential services within the communities in the San Luis Valley. Over the next 18 – 21 months, the HOPE grant funds will help the Shuttle work with businesses to find ways to support the transportation needs of their employees.

The Chaffee Shuttle will receive approximately $172,000 from the FTA, in addition to $27,000 in matching funds from the Colorado Department of Transportation, Chaffee County, the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group/Council of Governments, as well as in-kind contributions from the Chaffee Shuttle.

Businesses, groups, or individuals interested in learning more about the grant may contact Hank Martin with the Chaffee Shuttle offices at (719) 530-0223 for more information.

The Chaffee Shuttle is a shared ride and public transit service operating in Chaffee County.

Rides are provided for medical appointments, work, shopping, and social activities throughout

Chaffee County. Connecting services to Bustang Bus routes to Denver, Gunnison, Alamosa and Pueblo are also available. Contact the Chaffee Shuttle at 719-530-8980.