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County officials hope to restart bus routes

County officials hope to restart bus routes

Commissioners approve new buses, $100,000 extension for Tri City Roadrunner

Public Transit Manager Curtis Richter said the county is eager to restart its bus routes.

Public Transit Manager Curtis Richter said the county anticipates resuming Tri-City Roadrunner bus routes starting Feb. 1, barring another spike of COVID-19 cases in the area.

He said that decision is made based on making sure spread in the Panhandle and hospitalization rates flatten out or drop.

“If we kind of stay in the middle of the orange, and not tick back up into the red,” Richter said. “I hate to not have service available for people so we’re really trying to just mitigate our risk.”

Fixed-route services between Gering, Terrytown and Scottsbluff were halted in mid-November due to the pandemic during period of high COVID-19 positivity rates in the area. After that, only demand-response service, which requires 24-hour notice to schedule pick-ups, was allowed. He said drivers ran 1,578 trips just in December, compared to 1,390 in November, when fixed routes ran part of the month.

“We’re pushing the 100 to 120 trips a day with our demand-response, that’s where we’re maxed out,” Richter said.

Currently, there are five buses used on demand-response routes, and Richter said they are fully staffed.

He said masks will still be required on trips if routes restart, and they will continue the new sanitation procedures.

“We bought an electrostatic sprayer that we can spray the buses down each night. And it’s a biodegradable, very environmentally friendly sanitizer that we use,” he said. “Essentially sits on there for about 10 minutes before it dries and kills all the bacteria, germs, viruses.”

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Reporter

Danielle Prokop is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9055 or by email at danielle.prokop@starherald.com.

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