Pandemic Limits Bus Seating to Four

3/16/2021

Red Apple Transit, the only public transportation in Farmington, has all routes running, but must continue to impose social distancing, frustrating riders. Reported by Donna Hewett

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Need a ride?

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If you live in Farmington,

Aztec, Bloomfield,

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Kirtland, and locales in between,

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the Red Apple Transit public

bus system is your ticket.

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You're watching the Local News Network,

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brought to you by CMIT Solutions

and Serious Texas Bar-B-Q.

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I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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The shiny red buses have

been a sight for sore eyes,

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with fixed routes and

demand services since 1999.

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Ridership took a hit during the pandemic,

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dropping from more than 10,000

passengers a month to 1,500,

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but business is slowly building back up.

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It had an impact at the beginning.

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We had some drivers

that became quarantined

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and we did lose about

three routes at the time.

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But slowly as they came

off of the quarantine,

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we were able to get the routes

back online again for them.

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No plans have been set

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to re-establish full seating on the buses,

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which fit about 20 people.

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Now only four passengers are

allowed to ride at one time.

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It remains a problem for Red Apple riders

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and for drivers like Dee Shayne.

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A lot of people get irritated

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because we have to leave

them standing there.

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We have no choice.

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We already have four people on the bus

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and that is what the law is.

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It's a reminder

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of how much public

transportation is needed,

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how important it is for

those here in the community.

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There's many that depend on this

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to get to appointments,

to get to groceries,

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or any other destination

that they need to get to.

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Thankfully, the transit service received

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a substantial federal grant

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as an inoculation against

losses during the pandemic.

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We received $2.1 million of CARES Act

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from the federal government

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and that allowed us to

do away with the fares

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and also the charge that we levy

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towards the other communities

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to help support the service

to their communities.

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So we no longer are charging them,

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as long as we're fully

funded by the CARES Act,

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which we are.

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It's going to fully fund us

for approximately two years.

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So we've eliminated fares and

we've eliminated the charge

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to our surrounding community,

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so it's been a great benefit

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to not only the city of

Farmington and Red Apple Transit,

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but our surrounding communities as well.

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All five routes are color-coded.

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When does the yellow come by?

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The yellow will be here pretty quick.

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Bus driver Robert Moore

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says he misses the pre-pandemic days.

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I believe the bus held about 20.

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Once in a blue moon, there

would be somebody standing

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with all the seats filled,

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but pretty much didn't want to do that.

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But that was definitely before

COVID even was thought of.

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Red Apple Transit was developed

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by longtime mayor Bill Stanley.

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He named it after the Red Apple Flyer,

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a train that connected

Farmington to Durango,

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hauling goods such as wool,

pinto beans, and apples,

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lots and lots of apples.

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Back in the early 1900s,

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apples were a prime

crop for local farmers,

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but that's another story.

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Thanks for watching this edition

of the Local News Network.

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I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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