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Fixed transit route to be initiated in Moscow

MOSCOW – Valley Transit, University of Idaho and City of Moscow officials will gather with seniors, students and other bus riders in Friendship Square Tuesday to launch Moscow’s first fixed-route, public transportation service – Moscow Valley Transit.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude with a ceremonial bus ride. Main Street between Third and Fifth streets will be closed from 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. for the event.

Beginning Tuesday, the three-way partnership – which is funded with state and federal grant money won by Valley Transit and matching dollars from UI and the city – will provide scheduled, fixed-route bus transportation in Moscow.

Regular scheduled service will begin shortly after noon that day at the bus turnout between St. Augustine’s Catholic Center and the UI Student Union Building. After that, regular service will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. There will be no fare to riders using the Moscow Valley Transit fixed route; fares will continue to be charged for dial-a-ride service and for non-university riders on Wheatland Express.

Currently, the Lewiston-based Regional Public Transportation, Inc. – known as Valley Transit – provides extensive dial-a-ride service in Moscow, but riders must schedule their trips 24 hours in advance. That service provides the foundation for the fixed route, according to Valley Transit Executive Director Tom La Pointe.

“This partnership allows us to develop a pilot fixed-route service to complement the dial-a-ride service we currently provide,” La Pointe said. “It is a good starting point for further development of fixed-route service throughout Moscow.”

Federal designation of Lewiston as an urban area in 2002 freed up rural transportation dollars within Idaho’s District 2. Valley Transit, in partnership with the city and the university, competed for and received capital and operating grants totaling nearly $330,000 to provide service in Moscow, which is one of the largest rural communities in the state without a public, fixed-route service.

The University of Idaho provided “soft” match with the dollars it currently spends on its contract with Wheatland Express to provide transit service to students, faculty and staff. UI and the City of Moscow provided “hard” match of more than $60,000.

“This service would not have been possible without the support and partnership with the university and the city,” La Pointe said.

Dan Schoenberg, director of Auxiliary Services at UI, said the new service is another way to assist students, faculty and staff at the institution. “I am very pleased we are able to leverage the funds we already spend with Wheatland Express to provide transportation between Moscow and Pullman into another transit option for the entire Moscow community,” he said.

Moscow Mayor Marshall Comstock said the partnership meshes well with the city’s support of public transit options for its citizens. “Every opportunity we have to increase the public’s transportation options is good for the citizens,” he said. “The proposed Moscow Valley Transit system will provide such an option. We look forward to the new service and the ability to help it expand in the future.”

Users of the fixed-route service can catch a bus ride at any of several pre-designated sites at specific times. The service will begin 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; it will not operate on certain holidays and university breaks.

Working with the Moscow Transportation Commission’s Advisory Subcommittee, Valley Transit staff has developed the specific path of the scheduled fixed-route. In general, the route will consist of two separate, 30-minute loops that incorporate high-traffic areas in eastern and western parts of Moscow, specifically downtown Moscow, the University of Idaho campus and shopping areas at both ends of the community.

Specifics about the fixed-route schedule and stops will be available by contacting Valley Transit at 883-7747 or at Schedules for Wheatland Express also are available at that Web site or at

La Pointe noted that the routes were designed to complement current transportation service provided by Wheatland Express. He encouraged rider feedback.

“Everyone needs to understand that this is a pilot program. We’re going to make mistakes, and we want to hear from riders about how best to serve them,” he said. “Constructive criticism is always appreciated. We’re excited about being able to provide this service to the Moscow community.”