The Silver Express bus service is moving full speed ahead, especially now with their recent purchase of a brand new bus.
The positive news regarding the Silver Valley’s only public transportation service is welcomed by many considering the dire situation they faced only a year ago.
Lacking the operation funds to continue past July 2016, Charlie Gay and the Silver Express launched a fundraising campaign months before that date in an effort to keep the wheels turning.
Exceeding expectations, the service raised over $50,000 in donations from both individuals and business.
“We were going to have to shut the bus down,” said Shoshone County Commissioner Mike Fitzgerald, “the community really saved it.”
Major donors included McGillivray Environmental ($2,500), Northwest Medical Transportation ($2,500), Heritage Health ($2,500), Shoshone Medical Center Foundation ($2,500), Silver Valley Worship Center ($2,500), Shoshone Medical Center ($2,500), and Good Samaritan ($2,500).
The largest donation of $7,500 that assisted in paying for the new bus, came from Hecla Mining Co.
The new 14- seat Starcraft bus with auto-chains and handicap accessibility, replaces an aging eight seat vehicle that the service has been nursing for a while.
Fitzgerald said in a meeting with Gay that the timing of this new bus could not have been better.
“The last day of operating the old bus, the wheel fell off.”
A new bus is handy, considering that ridership is up compared to previous years.
According to the Silver Express April Operations Report, average local trips (Silver Valley only) are up to 66 per day in 2016 compared to 48 in 2015 (a 37 percent increase).
In terms of paying for the bus this year and in the future, the service is looking better.
“From a budgeting standpoint,” Fitzgerald explained, “we are doing really good.”
With a new fundraising drive on the horizon, Fitzgerald says that the service is looking to get into the black after operating in the red for so long.
Gay is also happy to announce that the Silver Express has been approved for a grant that would pay to replace the service’s second bus that makes trips to Coeur d’Alene.
That bus is slated to arrive in 2019.
For questions or more information, contact Charlie or Bekah at (855) 495-7325.