Wyoming Public Transit is...
- Forty plus local transit and social service agencies in all twenty-three Wyoming counties that provide 1,950,000 one way rides to over 66,000 individuals each year to basic life activities; grocery shopping, the doctor, meal programs, to work and to school, with a fleet of 268 vans and buses, and almost 300 professionally, trained drivers.
- Predominantly dial-a-ride service (door-to-door), handicapped/disability accessible with a few systems providing route service. Public transit also provides intercity feeder services to Greyhound and Powder River bus lines, such that residents can connect from their home to anywhere in the nation on public transit.
- The only public transportation of any kind in the majority of counties and municipalities in Wyoming and often with the only wheelchair lift equipped vehicles.
- The only public transportation available to many "transportation disadvantaged": low income, seniors, the disabled, as well as individuals who don't fit in these groups, such as those unable to drive temporarily for health reasons.
- Transit providers funded by local governments and private organizations, the State of Wyoming through the Department of Transportation (WYDOT), Federal Transit Administration funds provided through WYDOT, and contributions and fares paid by riders. State and federal money must be matched with local funds.
The General Benefits of Public Transit . . .
In addition to providing the most affordable rides for people who have limited or no other transportation, in general, transit:
(Source: American Public Transit Association Fact Book)
- Reduces Energy Consumption—A bus with seven riders is more fuel efficient than a single occupant automobile.
- Eases Traffic Congestion—One bus versus seven automobiles is a significant reduction in traffic.
- Reduces Air Pollution—A van or small transit bus reduces hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide between 70 and 90 percent per passenger mile.
- Is over eighty times safer than riding in an automobile—The death rate for automobiles is .85 deaths per 100 million miles, while for transit it is .01.
- Public transit is infrastructure—Just like water and sewer and roadways, transit is a necessary service for the public who do not have other transportation services.
The Benefits of Public Transit for Wyoming
WYDOT reports that in FY 2004 Wyoming Transit Program Agencies Provided:
- The only connection to the outside world and socialization for many of the riders.
- 1,905,707 one-way rides for over 66,000 different individuals, 21,652 of whom have no other transportation; with 106,412 rides for nutrition, 67,322 medical, 504,704 educational, 92,114 employment, 79,690 social, 170,961 personal, and 1,031,504 other.
- Rides for estimated 4,461 individuals to work who would not be able to get to the job otherwise.
- Rides for 887 seniors who would have to move from independent living to a nursing home without transit. Between independent living and nursing home care, transit saves individuals tremendous expenses and saves the state a portion of the nursing home costs they pay for.
- Over 165,000 rides for the division of family services clients, vocational rehabilitation clients; developmentally disabled agency clients; Headstart clients; public health clients; and other riders. Some paid for but many are not.
- A recent study indicated that the transit systems in Wyoming provided dial-a-ride, door-to-door service at a cost per ride that was average for the Rocky Mountain study area.
The State of Public Transit:
Currently the State of Wyoming, through the Department of Transportation (WYDOT), invests $1,500,000 per year in the rural transit program. This amount was increased by the Legislature and WYDOT in 1999 from approximately $900,000 where it had been since 1993. Without WYDOT funding, the transit program would be cut to one-fourth of its current size.
Transit providers also received a one-time amount of $3 million in 1999 from the Legislature in the Transportation Enterprise Fund. This funding is distributed through the State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) as 80 percent funding to purchase new vehicles. This amount has brought at least 100 new vehicles into the Wyoming Public Transit system. The annual amount from this fund for new vehicle purchases has been as high as $1 million.
Wyoming Public Transit Providers indicate that:
(Source: WYDOT, WYTRANS)
- Rider demand is increasing an average of 12 percent per year for transit agencies. Transit agency costs are increasing 16.7 percent per year per ride.
- The agencies have an average shortfall of $28,400 in meeting the demand for transit services, and need to find 20 percent of their budget, an average of $28,400 per year, to provide enough service to meet demand.
- Local match sources are projected to decline by 15 percent of the agencies, with 66 percent projecting a stable local match source. Seventeen percent project an increase in local match.
- The typical van costs $30,000, while the typical 12-15 passenger bus costs about $45,000. The estimated replacement cost for the state-wide fleet is $10,000,000. The typical economic life of a van or bus is five years. The average age of the vehicles is the Wyoming Public Transit fleet is 5.74 years.
- The average fare or suggested donation requested by the transit agencies is $1.56. This averages out to be less than 30 percent of the total cost of each ride, which is one person one way. A return trip home from the doctor's office, is a separate trip.
- At the same time, the transit agencies estimate that only 20 percent of their riders could pay more for a ride.
How to Improve Public Transit:
- Coordinated transportation service with human service agencies.
- A statewide dedicated source of local match for transit.
- Public awareness of the service provided; that transit is basic to life.
- Public support for transit.
- Continued improvements in efficiency by transit providers.
- More funding for operating and new vehicles.