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El Paso County and Envida launch public bus service to Calhan

Posted at 6:57 PM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 21:32:08-04
In a ribbon breaking ceremony, El Paso County elected leaders and executives with Envida celebrated the launch of rural bus service.

EL PASO COUNTY- Public bus service is now available on the eastern plains of El Paso County. The non-profit organization Envida launched limited service bus line Wednesday to connect the towns of Calhan, Peyton, and Falcon to city bus service in Colorado Springs.

Chief Executive Officer Gail Nehls said as many as 1700 households in the rural parts of El Paso County either don’t own a vehicle or have just one automobile for the family to use. That limits the mobility of these families to get to medical appointments or go to the grocery store.

“What we’ve seen is people want to age in their homes in their place, and rural communities have great loyalty and sense of community and they don’t want to move into the city, yet they want to have access to the services they need that help them stay in their communities.”

A combination of grants from County, State, and Federal funds will help offset operating costs allowing Envida to charge $5 one way fares.  Commissioner Mark Waller explained that County’s contribution as a $25,000 block grant.

“I think it’s a good investment of our County dollars because we could be providing more services for folks to live in assisted living in town, which costs a whole lot more, or you have a circumstance where people can stay in their houses out here,” Waller said.

The other benefits include reducing the number of cars on an already congested stretch of state highway and providing better connections to County services for eastern plains residents at a lower cost compared to building satellite offices.
The bus is wheelchair accessible. For now, it will run twice a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The first trip will leave the Calhan Community Outreach Center at 7:05 a.m. and is expected to reach the Mountain Metro Transit Hub on Voyager Parkway near Walmart at 8:17 a.m.

Along the way it will make stops at the Peyton Post Office, the Falcon Walmart, St. Francis Medical Center and US Health Memorial North hospital.  The second trip departs at 12:40 p.m.

Nehls hopes to grow their service to five days a week and also wants to extend the route south to Yoder.

Calhan resident Valerie Bruce said the service is a blessing.

“I’m thinking it’s going to be great, it’s been needed because the last one did not do so well and there are many people, elderly and disabled, and they need a way to get to their appointments and home without worrying.”

She has a car and can drive herself to the city if need be but said there are some advantages to taking the bus.

“It depends on the weather, I don’t like getting out on the ice and when it’s foggy, and I can’t drive at night at all.”

Nehl said the program came together quickly. The first exploratory meetings to plan the bus route started last November.