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Chaffee Shuttle, the county’s indispensable transportation service has received a prestigious $200,000 grant from the Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE) Program. The funding award was announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on October 7, 2020.

Chaffee Shuttle, which provides a shared ride and public transit service operating in Chaffee County, will receive approximately $172,000 from the FTA, in addition to $27,000 in matching funds from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Chaffee County, the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group, and Council of Governments, as well as in-kind contributions from the Chaffee Shuttle.

The grant funds going to Chaffee Shuttle will underwrite the planning and expansion of transit services between and within the counties in the San Luis Valley Transportation Planning Region, which has limited resources and a high poverty rate. The Region includes Alamosa, Chaffee, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache counties.

“It’s important that we not only plan new services but figure out ways to fund those services,” said Chaffee Shuttle Executive Director Hank Martin. “‘Paper planning’ is meaningless without a realistic financial plan to implement those services. The HOPE grant will help us do both.”

Commissioner Keith Baker led the local support for the grant, taking the project application to the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners for its consideration and eventual approval.

“In these times, with the added strain of COVID-19, it’s vital to support our community as much as we can,” said Baker. “Transportation represents the second highest expense to families, second only to housing. This grant will help us find ways to use transit to help people reduce their transportation costs.”

According to the FTA, the HOPE Program is intended to help areas of persistent poverty increase access to jobs and healthcare through enhanced transit options and improved facilities. Projects funded by the HOPE program are intended to help residents access jobs and vital community services, thereby addressing some of the disparities in rural areas. Specifically, rural transportation infrastructure’s unique challenges need to be considered in order to meet our Nation’s priority transportation goals of safety and economic competitiveness.

To allocate this new funding, the shuttle will use results from recent community surveys to identify routes and improve connections to jobs and essential services within the communities in the Valley. Over the next 18 – 21 months, the HOPE grant funds will help the Shuttle work with businesses to find ways to support the transportation needs of their employees.

Businesses interested in learning more about the grant should contact Hank Martin at the Chaffee Shuttle offices at 719-530-0223 for more information.

The Chaffee Shuttle provides indispensable service to the county, providing rides for medical appointments, work, shopping, and social activities throughout Chaffee County. Chaffee Shuttle also provided connecting services to Bustang Bus routes to Denver, Gunnison, Alamosa, and Pueblo are also available. Contact the Chaffee Shuttle at 719-530-8980.