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Lab takes back one bus route

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By Katy Korkos

Atomic City Transit has been picking up  and dropping off passengers throughout the county since October, and providing service inside the security perimeter of Los Alamos National Laboratory with a TA-3 circulator route. LANS has notified the county that KSL will begin servicing the LANL TA-3 Circulator Route Monday. Atomic City Transit will cease to provide transit services for the LANL TA-3 Circulator Route 2 effective 7:04 p.m. Friday.Since October, the county has provided transit services to LANS for the LANL TA-3 Circulator Route 2 free of charge, with the understanding that a transit services contract would be negotiated. The county can no longer continue to provide the TA-3 Circulator without compensation.Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman said Tuesday that the county’s negotiations with LANL are ongoing, and that the county is hopeful that Atomic City Transit will get a contract with LANL to provide the circulator service in the future. Zimmerman emphasized that riders should not notice any gaps in service.The county and LANS representatives have been working together for the last three years to negotiate a transit services contract, stated a press release issued by the Public Works Department  Tuesday. Although negotiations to date have been unsuccessful, the county will continue to work with LANS representatives towards developing a mutually agreeable contract.Zimmerman said that the county will try to get assurances from the lab and KSL that the circulator provided by KSL will still link up with Atomic City Transit buses at the transit center near the security gates at the same times, to optimize the connections between Los Alamos and White Rock with the lab.Ridership on the county’s first public transit system is climbing dramatically, with the number of passenger trips in January up by more than 4,000 from the previous three months of operation. The service was initiated Oct. 1, and throughout October, November and December, ridership was stable at about 7,000 passenger trips per month. In January, passenger trips climbed to 11,910. Passenger trip totals for White Rock more than doubled, with 543 passengers in December and 1,274 in January.“We’re really excited about the increase in ridership,” Transit Operations Manager Mike Davis said. Davis added that the increase demonstrates how much county residents want and need a public transit system.The transit system plans a formal launch of the bus system on Leap Day, Feb. 29, with tours of the buses and a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. The ceremony will take place at the Community Building, 475 20th St. An open house will follow until 3 p.m.Revised Atomic City Transit schedules and routes will be available from bus drivers and at www.AtomicCityTransit.com beginning Thursday.  Atomic City Transit services will continue to be free to riders through the end of April.Atomic City Transit Customer Service can be reached at 661-RIDE (661-7433) from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday with questions or concerns.