Many who ride Pocatello Regional Transit buses aren’t happy after PRT put its after-hours service on hiatus amid budget concerns. Some say they may even try to privately raise the money needed to keep the service going.
The service, which normally runs from 6:40 p.m. to 9:40 p.m., was suspended last month after PRT officials concluded ridership was too low to continue it through the summer months.
“There were evenings where we had as few as one person using the service,” said Dave Hunt, director of PRT.
The service will resume Aug. 24, but that’s not soon enough for some wheelchair-bound PRT customers who say they rely on the after-hours service to run errands and return home from work.
“It takes away a part of who you are. It takes away your initiative to do things when it’s not that you don’t want to go do something, you can’t. You don’t have a ride home,” said Danny Wells, who is disabled.
While Wells doesn’t ride the bus himself, he has friends who do, like Tracy Martin. She and others must now find their own way home in the evening.
“At night, without the proper lighting and proper reflective gear, I would be afraid,” said Martin.
Martin is leading an effort to seek out private donors to sponsor PRT’s after-hours service. Hunt tells Local News 8 is costs them about $50 per hour to run a bus after hours – about $150 per day.
“That doesn’t seem like a whole lot to go through the rest of the summer if we could raise that much money,” said Martin.
Meanwhile, at least one business is already seeing a decrease in clientele since the after-hours bus service was put on hold.
Beyond Barriers Fitness on Yellowstone Avenue said as much as 30 percent of its customer base depends on the after-hours PRT buses.
“We even designed our business hours around PRT’s schedule,” said owner Mary Van Orden.
Van Orden recounted how one long-time client had to stop coming in altogether.
“She can’t come in that much because she has to cut her work schedule to be able to come in,” said Van Orden.
Hunt said that if Martin and others can raise the money needed to restore the after-hours service, PRT would be happy to accept it.