Print Public transit not easy in rural area, but it’s necessary
Written by Trista Steers MacVittie   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 00:00

There appears to be friction over funding and control of local public transportation.

The Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority eliminated one route and increased the length of time a route takes to recirculate. This comes after local municipalities voted not to grant NAIPTA’s wishes when it came to forking out more funding than they anticipated.

Now in jeopardy is a Cottonwood service residents have come to rely on and a regional system picking up steam.

Regardless of who is in charge, one thing is for certain — public transportation within the Cottonwood area and the Verde Lynx to Sedona have become vital services.

A room full of concerned residents who showed up for NAIPTA meetings and lines waiting at bus stops show the service is being used.

Public transportation isn’t easy in rural communities.

Sedona recently ended its agreement with NAIPTA for the Sedona RoadRunner, which was mostly a service to shuttle tourists throughout the shopping district.

Sedona had the wrong plan, which is why it didn’t work out, but Cottonwood is on the right track.

Both services available in Cottonwood focus on the resident — the man or woman who hops on the bus daily to get to work or the store. People schedule their trips around the bus route and riding public transit becomes their mode of transportation.

In a rural community, this is difficult.

Cottonwood residents have made the effort and turned CAT and the Verde Lynx into model rural systems proving a city doesn’t need millions of people for public transportation to make sense.

Recent developments in the service provided threaten CAT’s ability to continue to be successful, and it’s only a matter of time before the Lynx also sees cutbacks.

Limiting routes or increasing trip times may save money, but it also hurts the service.

If it now takes a rider twice as long to get to work, that person is less likely to take the bus. If new bus stops hinder a rider’s ability to get where he or she needs to go, that person is less likely to take the bus. If the cost of riding the bus no longer saves the rider a significant amount of money, that person is less likely to take the bus.

Cottonwood built a wonderful service for its people, and the addition of the Lynx only adds one more benefit to the mix. However, stripping down the service is the first nail in the coffin.

NAIPTA and representatives from local governments met Tuesday, Oct. 18. Let’s hope they came up with a plan to save public transportation.