Red Apple Transit director: Operational analysis is needed to apply for federal grants

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FARMINGTON — A new study will evaluate some proposed locations for a permanent Red Apple Transit bus system central transportation hub.

The Farmington City Council on Tuesday awarded a contract for the analysis to the KFH Group Inc., a transit-planning organization based in Maryland. The city will pay $59,000 for the study. 

Red Apple Transit director Andrew Montoya said the operational analysis is one of the steps the city must complete before it can apply for federal grants to build a hub. An earlier study isolated three potential locations.

Red Apple Transit's ridership grew over recent years. It partnered with the North Central Regional Transit District and with Navajo Transit, which bring riders from the Jicarilla Apache Nation and Navajo Nation to Farmington. That growth increases the need for a central hub, Montoya said.

Orchard Plaza, located at 915 Farmington Ave., serves now as the system's central transit hub. The site was intended to serve only as a temporary central hub, Montoya said.

"Somehow, over the years, it's almost become a permanent one," he said.

The city hired a firm about two years ago to analyze potential locations for the new hub. The firm analyzed eight locations and recommended three for consideration, including two in the downtown area. The operational analysis will look at the recommended locations, Montoya said.

"The study's quite intensive," Montoya said.

The analysis will examine how much land the city needs, the size of the building that is needed, and the amount of time and miles to get the buses from the operations center yard to the transit hub. It will also examine passenger drop-off and pick-up areas, sheltered passenger waiting areas, and how the buses will enter and exit the hub. The study also will provide the city with an estimate for how much it would cost to build the facility.

The KFH Group also will prepare a bus route map to the proposed transit hub.

Montoya said Red Apple Transit would like to maintain as many of the current stops as possible, but some stops may need to be moved.

"We want to make this as smooth as possible," he said.

The operational analysis also will identify potential new stops that could attract new riders.

Montoya anticipates the study could take about four months to complete. He said the process will include public input, and the findings will be presented to the City Council.

While the study likely will be completed this year, Montoya does not know how long it will be until the new transportation hub is built. He said Red Apple Transit will begin applying for grants after the analysis is completed, and construction will be contingent on funding.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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