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By Todd Wildermuth, City of Roswell Public Information Officer
At 6 a.m. on any weekday, seven buses roll out of the Pecos Trails Transit terminal in downtown Roswell to start their day. It doesn’t take long for the buses to reach their first stops and start moving people throughout the city. The buses will be out all day and into the night, heading in all directions as they bring people to work and home again, to appointments, to classes at the college, to do some shopping or a wide variety of other activities. The last bus back to the terminal on a weekday will return around 10:30 p.m.
The City of Roswell’s current public transportation system has been in place for about 25 years. Today, Pecos Trails Transit stays on the move thanks to a roster of about 20 drivers plus a staff of six at the terminal that includes managers, administrative assistants and a janitor.
“Driving safely, getting to each destination on time, dealing with challenging situations, giving the safest, best and pleasant service to each and every customer,” says Pecos Trails Transit Director Anna Aragon (pictured) in describing the daily goals of the transit system staff.
The system has 11 buses, with seven on the street running routes at any given time on weekdays. Throughout a day, buses will be swapped in and out of service to better maintain all of them. Three buses are used on weekends, when the routes are limited to Main Street and run from 7:10 a.m. to 10:10 p.m. on Saturdays and 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. The vehicle lineup also features five para-transit vans designed to transport residents with disabilities who need door-to-door service from their homes or other locations to medical facilities or other destinations.
On a single weekday, Pecos Trails Transit vehicles are estimated to travel an approximate combined 900 miles and carry about 1,800 to 2,000 passengers (with many individual riders being counted as two passengers as they take a bus one way to their destination and then get a return trip later).
Buses run on a variety of Roswell streets each weekday to provide service to most parts of the city. There are about 250 bus stops throughout the city. The newest one is currently being planned to serve the new Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center under construction at the corner of West College Boulevard and North Montana Avenue.
“We started with routes that were not as user-friendly as the ones we have now,” Aragon says, recalling the transit system’s early days. “We hired a professional (consultant) to come in to revamp our routes and make them better for the public and cover more of the city.”
In general, a bus arrives at a bus stop approximately every 28 minutes. However, buses may show up five minutes or so early at times or be up to 15 minutes late if they were loading or unloading a disabled passenger at a previous stop.
In the beginning, Pecos Trails Transit used larger 40-passenger buses, but the city streets suffered too much wear and tear from those vehicles and the capacity of each bus was not necessary for the passenger numbers. Today, each bus – technically called a minibus – carries 22 to 26 passengers, depending on the specific details of an individual bus.
Through the years, driver training has continued to develop and expand. The bus and van drivers are now trained extensively in a variety of topics, from defensive driving and other skills and knowledge directly related to driving a bus to things such as first aid and CPR, customer service, and assisting passengers with disabilities.
One of the latest changes for Pecos Trails Transit is a partnership with Greyhound bus lines. Greyhound, an intercity carrier transporting passengers and packages throughout North America, in early October closed its Roswell terminal at the corner of North Virginia Avenue and East 11th Street in favor of moving its local base to the Pecos Trails Transit terminal on North Main Street between Fifth and Sixth streets.
To learn more about Pecos Trails Transit and the services it offers, as well as find information about bus routes, schedules and fares, visit roswell-nm.gov/transit. The bus terminal and transit offices, located at 515 N. Main Street, can be reached at (575) 624-6766.
Aragon encourages anyone with a commercial driver’s license (with passenger-bus endorsement) who is interested in becoming a bus driver to apply. Pecos Trails Transit is regularly looking to hire additional drivers.