Tri-city transit study complete

Firm outlines three possible route options between Kingman, Bullhead and Havasu

KINGMAN - An intercity transit system connecting Kingman, Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City came one step closer to becoming a reality Tuesday afternoon.

Jennifer Love, a spokeswoman for the Parsons Brinckerhoff consulting firm, announced that the company has completed its feasibility study of the Tri-City Transit Connector and has officially moved into phase two - implementation.

Speaking before a small audience composed mostly of local representatives of the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Western Arizona Council of Governments and Kingman Area Regional Transit, Love unveiled cost estimates and projected fares for the transit system as well as three separate route options devised by her firm and based on public input received during the feasibility study.

Each of the three route options covers the same area, and stops at the same seven stops, which were determined as where people most wanted to go and were most convenient for them to reach on foot, bicycle or municipal public transit. The proposed stops are: the Ross plaza in Kingman, the Dollar General in Golden Valley, the Bullhead City boat dock, the Mohave Crossroads shopping plaza in south Bullhead, the Valley View Medical Center in Fort Mohave, Golden Shores, and the Shops at Lake Havasu mall.

One-way fares between the three cities are projected to be much lower than those currently offered by private transit companies, running from as low as $2 for a trip from Kingman to Golden Valley to as much as $12 for a trip from Kingman to Lake Havasu, and vice-versa. Love said existing intercity fares currently range anywhere from $17 to $65 based on the starting point, the destination and the company used.

Each of the three route options has a different schedule. The first option would have two buses continuously running clockwise and counterclockwise between all three cities all day, beginning and ending in Kingman.

The second option would be similar to the first but would include two separate back-and-forth routes between Kingman and the Bullhead City boat dock, and between the boat dock and the Mohave Crossroads shopping center.

The third option is also the priciest and would consist of three back-and-forth routes connecting Kingman to Bullhead, Bullhead to Havasu and Havasu to Kingman. The third option is estimated to cost $670,000, while the first and second would cost $535,000 and $494,000, respectively.

Each of the three cost estimates is based on Monday through Saturday services.

"I think they're all three good options," said WACOG Transportation Planner Dave Barber. "City councils will have something they can examine for the number of trips being made, the cost of the service, and whether or not they like the concept of a continual type of route."

Barber went on to note that option three would be the most easily-scalable, meaning if one intercity route proved more popular with commuters than the other two, the remaining routes could divert resources to fill the increased need. He added, however, that councils might balk at the high cost.

How the project might be funded remains an open question, though Love said those details will come into focus over the coming months once she shares the route options with each of the three cities' councils. One path to funding, she said, would be for a single tri-city representative or private non-profit to apply for federal funding, though the earliest the region might see the money would be October 2010.

In the meantime, however, Love said the route options will continue to make the rounds, with another high-profile presentation expected for the next Tri-City Council meeting in Lake Havasu this October. From now through then, she said, citizens from all three cities are encouraged to view the route options once they're uploaded to ADOT's Web site at http://www.azdot.gov/mpd/Community_Grant_Services/WACOGConnectorTransitFeasibilityandImplementationPlan.asp. Citizens can share their opinions on the options by e-mailing Love at love@pbworld.com or by calling (480) 449-7734.