You might remember that in mid summer of last year, we reported on a brand new bus system for the City of Laramie lead by the Albany County Transportation Authority (ACTA). Laramie's new buses have been in operation for approximately 5 months now so we thought we would check in and see how well this new transit system is doing and how many people in town are using the bus system.

In the beginning, the push to establish ACTA came from several different entities around Laramie and the state as well. WYDOT, who already provides funding for both the University of Wyoming's bus system as well as the Epson Center's, recommended that the two bus systems consolidate their grant funding into one organization. The city's master plan as well as the University of Wyoming's also called for the establishment of this transportation authority. Other educational entities in town including WyoTech and LCCC were also in need of a bus system to service their student populations. Additionally, a community needs survey administered every three years has consistently found that transportation has come in as the second greatest need behind housing. As a result ACTA was born as a one year pilot program with buses provided by both the University of Wyoming and the Epson Center for Seniors.

Of course the big question with this transit system as with any other is whether or not it is being utilized by the community. So far initial numbers collected by bus drivers on a daily basis are encouraging. ACTA spokesman Tim Sullivan told us:

Ridership has picked up throughout the fall and as we entered December we were seeing approximately 219 riders per day.    

When asked about the difference in traffic as student populations vacated Laramie for the holidays, Tim said that:

Ridership dropped approximately 35% [following the end of the school semester]

Looking into the future for ACTA, there are several new possibilities including new stops and routes, but this will only happen if ridership meets expectations. One extra bus has been added on the weekends to expand service starting today as bus service resumes for the new year. Current bus stops were chosen by comittee members from UW, the Eppson, Albany County, and the City of Laramie as well as members at large.  The route was chosen to maximize ridership and awareness of the new service; no business payed to be a stop on the route. The most popular stops on the route are the UW Union, Wal-Mart  and Downtown. Tim said that the following requests have been made for the future:

There have been many requests for a stop in West Laramie as well as a north south route.  If the pilot program ridership meets our expectations and long-term funding is achieved, the ACTA Board will most definitely look at adding the West Laramie route and a north south route.  

From the sounds of things, Laramie's new bus system is off to a positive start. You really can't beat a free ride around town, especially if you are a student without a vehicle. It remains to be seen if the buses will remain free but for the forseeable future that is the expectation. With a limited number of stops for now this might not be a great solution for many citizens, but it does seem to be providing a needed service for some and especially our student populations. The new scheduled stop times and route for the Gem City Grand are displayed below as well as our full interview with ACTA spokesperson Tim Sullivan. Let us know what you think about the new bus system in the comments section below!