New service relies on federal money to provide mass transit from Dulce to Farmington



FARMINGTON — Buses will once again connect Bloomfield and Farmington starting in October.

The Bloomfield City Council approved an agreement Monday for a bus stop in Bloomfield.

Jim Nagle, a spokesman for North Central Regional Transit District, said the service will likely begin the first week of October.

The Jicarilla Apache Nation received more than $221,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration for the route to provide bus service from Dulce to Farmington twice a week. The grant also covers routes from Dulce to Chama. 

The bus service will be provided by the North Central Regional Transit District. The bus likely will stop at South 1st Street in Bloomfield next to the Multi-Cultural Center three times a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The times have not been set.

Nagle said the bus route is important because it connects remote communities in the Jicarilla Apache Nation with essential services in Farmington. 

The bus service comes after the city of Bloomfield canceled bus service from the city of Farmington's Red Apple Transit. Bloomfield City Manager Eric Strahl said he received several calls from people after the service ended in October who said they relied on the buses to get to doctor's appointments or classes at San Juan College.

While the bus service will not be as frequent as what Red Apple Transit offered, Strahl said the city hopes it will help people who don't have private transportation get to Farmington.

Unlike Red Apple Transit, the city will not have to pay for the bus service. Because of the federal grant, the bus service will be free.

Strahl said the city also hopes people from the Jicarilla Apache reservation will use the bus to access services in Bloomfield rather than going all the way to Farmington.

The grant will expire in October 2018. If ridership is not high enough, the Jicarilla Apache Nation may choose not to reapply for the funding.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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