After 10 years of free bus service in Kootenai County, Citylink Transit will undergo a major assessment of routes, stops, ridership and travel times, as well as the possibility of charging fares for the first time.
“We would like to do a comprehensive view of the transit system,” said Jody Bieze, the county’s transit administrator. “We want to move it from being an informal system to a formal system.”
The analysis also will touch on plans to build a transit center at the bus system’s hub in Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone development. Kootenai County and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, which jointly operate Citylink, paid $1.7 million last year for the land to build the center at Riverstone Drive and Seltice Way.
The county said Friday it will request proposals to conduct a service and fare equity analysis for Citylink’s urban routes, which operate daily. The routes serve Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Hayden, Dalton Gardens and Huetter. The analysis will look at those cities as well as service potential for Rathdrum, Fernan and Stateline.
The analysis will encompass “every aspect of service from bus stop placement to security and service,” said Bieze.
“The key things would be making sure current routes we have are the right service routes and that the stops within those routes are the stops we should have as well,” Bieze said.
The urban routes include about 80 stops and had ridership above 48,000 in the past three months. Most Citylink buses seat up to 33 people and include bicycle racks and wheelchair lifts.
The potential to introduce fares on the urban routes will be another aspect of the analysis.
System operators also are looking ahead to giving Citylink riders the latest tools to track service.
“Planning has begun for a transit service that is fully integrated with technology, allowing residents to know where the buses are at any moment just with a glance at their phone,” Bieze said.
Citylink began in November 2005 with more than $2 million from the federal government, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and North Idaho cities. In that inaugural month, it welcomed 8,000 riders. In time the number grew to almost 50,000 passengers a month systemwide.
The tribe operates the rural Citylink route in Benewah County, with service between Riverstone, the casino, Worley, Plummer, Tensed and DeSmet. That route will not be part of the service and fare analysis.
Citylink is funded through Federal Transit Administration funds that the county receives plus support from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Kootenai Health, the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization and the cities served by Citylink are partners in the system.
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