Cochise County residents now have access to intercity transit services with the launch of the new Cochise Connection route.

August 15, 2017
Douglas Dispatch

Cochise County residents now have access to intercity transit services with the launch of the new Cochise Connection route, which officially launched on Aug. 7. Operated by the City of Douglas, the Cochise Connection is a public bus service that links the cities of Bisbee, Douglas, and Sierra Vista, Monday through Saturday.

The new route was made possible through funding provided by the Legacy Foundation of Southeast Arizona, SouthEastern Arizona Governments Organization (SEAGO), Freeport McMoran, Cochise County, and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).

Six bus stops are currently listed on the route; Dougla Visitor’s Center (345 16th Street), Cochise College Douglas (41-90 AZ-80), Lowell Plaza (near 72 Erie Street in Bisbee), Canyon Vista Medical Center (5700 AZ-90 in Sierra Vista), Cochise College main campus (901 Columbo Avenue in Sierra Vista), and the Sierra Vista Transit Center (401 Giulio Cesare Avenue).

Service hours are 6:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Saturday.

One-way fares cost $3 per person from Douglas to Bisbee, and from Bisbee to Sierra Vista, or $4 from Douglas to Sierra Vista.

Passengers are eligible for one free transfer upon payment of full the Cochise Connection fare. A transfer may be redeemed for a connecting ride on Bisbee Bus and Douglas Rides services. Transfers are valid for single-direction travel only on the day of issuance.

All Cochise Connection buses are ADA compliant and equipped with bike racks.  

During a ribbon cutting and service launch ceremony, held in Douglas on Aug. 7, several guest speakers spoke about the history of the Cochise Connection project and expressed its importance to the county.

Chris Vertees, Transportation Program Manager, SEAGO, gave opening remarks during the event. “Mobility means opportunity,” said Vertrees. “We’ve heard from so many people through this planning process...We heard from those who were transported by ambulance at hospitals throughout the region that were stranded after they were treated because they had no transportation back.” The program manager added that SEAGO heard from students who were considering moving to Sierra Vista because a majority of their major was not available at the Douglas campus; from employers who could not staff some of their businesses because the price of gas was so prohibitive in terms of taking a minimum wage job and being able to drive from Sierra Vista to Douglas and back. He continued, “We heard from the elderly who had not left their community in some 20 years. We talked to one person from Douglas, that said the last time they went to Sierra Vista it ended at the McDonald’s on Fry Boulevard.”   Vertrees noted that the new service will not solve all of these problems, but he feels it is a good start in giving more opportunity to residents.

According to the American Public Transportation Association, it is estimated that $1 billion invested in public transportation over a 20-year period results in $3.7 billion in economic boost.

“If you’re excited in economic development this is a great day for you,” Randy Heiss, Executive Director, SEAGO said. “...Public Transportation fosters economic development, real estate investment, local job creation as well as connecting people to higher educational opportunities, employment centers and healthcare facilities.”  

Jim Moore, CEO, Moore & Associates mentioned that more than 800 county residents participated in focus groups, surveys and workshops to design the bus schedule, route, and pricing.

Becky Smith of the Legacy Foundation thanked the project contributors for their partnership in this effort.

To close, Ann English, Cochise County Supervisor, District 2, emphasized the important need for local public transit, and improved transportation.

“When you live in an area like this and want to stay here it’s important that we get the message out to people that now they have options,” said English. “We’re offering hope now...It’s going to be up to us to make sure that people are aware of the bus, because if we don’t have people riding it it will go away.”  

SEAGO Transportation staff thanked the Cochise Connection Technical Advisory Committee members for their time and dedication to this project: Ana Urquijo, Melanie Greene (City of Bisbee) Lori Botts (City of Benson); Luis Pedroza, Humberto Rivera, and Cynthia Acuna Robles (City of Douglas); Richard Cayer and Mike Normand (City of Sierra Vista); Karen Lamberton (Cochise County); LaMont Schiers (Cochise College); Melissa Silva (U of A South); Keith Rosenblum (TAP Royale); and Dan Coxworth (Sierra Vista MPO).

For more information on the new route, visit www.CochiseConnection.com or call (520) 417-7400.

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