COOLIDGE — With Greyhound’s move from Casa Grande to Eloy, riders who rely on the Central Arizona Regional Transit system might notice a few changes beginning in July.
With the new Greyhound stop at Love’s Travel Stop on Sunland Gin Road officially up and running, CART routes and schedules will be adjusted accordingly to connect to the Eloy stop.
CART is an intercity public transportation system, offering rides to key stops throughout Pinal County including the Pinal County Courthouse in Florence, the Pinal County Complex in Casa Grande and Central Arizona College's Signal Peak Campus.
By connecting to Greyhound, the system receives federal funding through the Federal Transit Administration. CART formerly connected to the old Greyhound bus stop in Casa Grande, located at Kortsen and Trekell roads.
However, the company decided to move the stop to Eloy after the Casa Grande City Council opposed operations at its former stop at the Chevron Station.
For the locally operated CART, the decision and subsequent transition period caused the system to lose out on thousands of dollars in federal funding before it was reinstated earlier this year.
On average, CART receives over $126,000 in federal funding per year. In addition, the system receives intercity funding of $87,574.
In the reorganized route, the Kortsen and Trekell stop has been eliminated to reflect the changes, Interim Transit Manager Erik Heet said.
“We had to get very creative with the new CART schedule,” Heet said. “There are specific time windows we had to hit with Greyhound’s stops to maintain our (federal) funding with them and they only stop four times a day versus five times a day where they used to.”
But there are other changes regular riders of the intercity system will see.
CART routes have been reworked to avoid McCartney Road. Instead, buses will now use Cottonwood Lane as they make their way to and from Casa Grande.
“It’s a straight shot to the county complex and the road is a lot smoother,” Heet said. “We’re aiming for a smoother ride for our passengers and drivers as well.”
The changes in the route might also help the system pick up additional riders, Heet noted. In recent years, CART has seen overall ridership numbers dip.
“When McCartney Road was closed for some construction, we went down Cottonwood as kind of a detour and we were picking up a lot of new people down there,” Heet said.
In addition, the Westbound and Eastbound routes will begin the mornings by heading to Florence first, compared to the previous route schedule where CART buses initially went to Casa Grande.
The schedule times have also been adjusted in the hopes of making the morning and p.m. commuter routes more timely for those riders who use the bus to get to school or work.
Routes will run about 15-20 minutes shorter despite being about 10 miles longer compared to the previous routes, Heet noted.
“There’s a lot less sitting, which has been a huge sticking point with passengers,” he said. “They don’t want to sit anywhere for 20 minutes and we’ve vanquished that.”
The new routes will be taking effect Monday. Beginning on the same day, both the CART and the Cotton Express — the public transportation system in Coolidge — will be offering free rides throughout July in honor of Independence Day.