|Written by Lu Stitt|
|Wednesday, 11 November 2009 12:41|
Buses run to and from Cottonwood eight times a day
The buses are running.
Although the Verde Lynx bus service between Sedona and Cottonwood conducted an official opening of the transit building and kickoff for the link at 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9, in Cottonwood, the buses began taking commuters to Sedona at 6 a.m.
A commuter link between the two communities has been about 12 years in the making, according to Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis.
“Several people talked about public transportation in the Verde Valley then, but there was a fact that public transportation doesn’t work in rural Arizona — except in the city of Cottonwood and its success with the Cottonwood Area Transit system,” Davis said. “The concept moved, in government terms, at light speed in only 12 years.”
Four buses formed the backdrop for several speakers. Along with a Verde Lynx bus was the Sedona RoadRunner trolley, a CAT bus and a Mountain Line hybrid electric bus from Flagstaff.
“Obviously nobody does anything like this alone,” Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority General Manager Jeff Meilbeck said. “It took a lot of people to put this system together. It took cooperation from both communities.”
Putting the transit system together also took money. It came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which gave NAIPTA more than $4 million to improve public transit in Northern Arizona.
The money bought the buses, $180,000 each, and built the $2.8 million, 100 percent solar powered transit building on Happy Jack Way in Cottonwood.
Local contractors did the work, the buses were built in the United States and customized by Arizona companies, Meilbeck said.
“We are pleased we could use the money to increase access to public transit,” Meilbeck said. “[U.S. Representative] Ann Kirkpatrick [D-District 1] has been instrumental in getting the funding for us.”
Kirkpatrick could not make the ceremonies, but District Director Virginia Turner spoke on her behalf.
“She passes along her congratulations for doing a tremendous job and sees this as a cornerstone in continuing to bring public transit to the Verde Valley,” Turner said.
Joanne Keene passed along Gov. Jan Brewer’s congratulations for a job well done.
Sedona Mayor Rob Adams said he at first was not a supporter of the proposal when he served on the NAIPTA board two years ago but has turned 180 degrees with his opinion.
“Seeing the buses and how they connect to all areas of our communities is my vision of how a community should operate,” Adams said. “This is demonstrating regionalism, which is a word we didn’t use 10 years ago. We all did our own thing.”
Adams walked to the speaker’s podium hand-in-hand with Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens to signify joining of the communities. Their gesture caused laughter throughout the crowd.
“This is an A-1 operation we worked on as cooperating communities. It will improve the quality of life for our citizens,” Joens said.
Statistics show it costs approximately $8,000 a year to operate a car, according to Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce President Lana Tolleson.
his system affords them a way to get around,” Tolleson said, citing that the cost to ride the bus system is far less when one buys a $40 monthly, unlimited ride pass. The daily cost to ride the Verde Lynx is $2 for each one-way trip.
The Verde Lynx will make eight trips a day Monday through Saturday and three on Sunday.
For more information, call 282-0938.
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