Goose Creek Transit has been operating a fixed route bus service around Sheridan for more than three months now. This service started Oct. 1 and the number of riders has exceeded our expectations. I estimated perhaps 550 rides a month when we started but we have been averaging about twice that number. And we can still provide a lot more rides on this service.
If you are not familiar with this new Goose Creek Transit service, it is a bus route that covers most of the commercial and medical centers in Sheridan. The route starts at The Hub on Smith at the top of each hour from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week, and from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on weekends and holidays. From The Hub on Smith, the bus travels down to Brundage Lane on the south end of town and then as far north as Malcolm Wallop Park and then west on Fifth Street as far as Covey Run Apartments before making its way back to The Hub on Smith Street 55 minutes later. Following that, there is a short 5 minute layover and the bus starts again at the top of the hour. We have more than 30 stops now and may add more depending on the demand.
One of the best things about this service is that for, at least this year, there is no fare to ride. We were fortunate to receive several grants that will cover 100% of the cost of the service for this year. Hopefully, we will be as fortunate next year and beyond.
Being able to provide this service without a fare really helps encourage people to ride the bus, which benefits the entire community even if you never ride the bus. Less congestion on the road and more parking spaces available are just a couple of the community benefits.
People are using this new service for a variety of reasons. Many use it to go shopping, some use it for medical appointments but what impresses me the most is the number of people who use it to get to work. They are regular riders who our drivers see every day.
The other day I was shopping at a local business and I was wearing my GCT uniform. The store manager noticed my logo and asked if I worked for Goose Creek Transit. I told her I did and she told me that she has been using the bus to get to work every day. She said that it just worked really well for her work schedule and made the work commute for her husband a lot easier as well. I thought to myself, how perfect is that? In addition to solving a work commute problem for them, it also leaves another parking space for shoppers coming to her store.
We’ve been getting a lot of support from a lot of different people, but I would like give a shout out to the city of Sheridan, and Mayor Roger Miller, especially, for agreeing to help us place some park benches at a few of our busier stops. We will get four benches moved to bus stops in the spring, and that is a great step forward to providing a high quality public transit experience. If this service continues to be so successful, I will be looking to the FTA and WYDOT to add a few bus shelters and more bus benches around town. In the future, I also envision adding another route that will serve the college and the Sheridan Veterans Affairs Health Care System campus.
So it is a very exciting time for me. I have been working in public transit for more than two decades and have set up new routes before, but this is one route that has really gotten off to a good start. I’m really looking forward to seeing it improve over the next few years.
For more information, call 307-675-RIDE (7433).
Steve Ainslie is the transportation director for Goose Creek Transit in Sheridan County.