LAKE PLACID - Essex County has taken over operation of the Mountain Valley Shuttle, a service previously run by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA).
Essex County Transportation Coordinator Nancy Dougal said ORDA agreed in December to extend its Lake Placid/Wilmington route to include AuSable Forks.
"ORDA's season is ending," Dougal said. "This is the way we agreed to work it out."
The county monitored ridership throughout the winter to decide whether the service was viable, Dougal said. A two-year grant issued by the state Department of Transportation and funded by the Job Access and Reverse Commute program paid for the shuttle.
Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas said the service has been a success, and has helped low-income workers save money on transportation.
"Each week, ridership increased in the winter months," Douglas said.
"I think through the summer months we will see what happens, but I think with proper advertising, it will be used quite frequently."
The board voted April 6 to create three part-time bus drivers positions. Salary for those drivers will come from grant money, Dougal added.
Plattsburgh- and Lake Placid-based business Ground Force One had been operating the shuttle.
Douglas said he is working with supervisors to develop strategies for increasing ridership by the time the two-year grant program expires.
If the shuttle program proves viable, the county would set a fee for use.
"We are hopeful at that time we can have a cost to the rider that will help offset the cost to the county," Douglas said.
The route between AuSable Forks and Lake Placid will remain the same, although the time schedule has been shortened. The bus now leaves AuSable Forks at 5:55 a.m. and 2:05 p.m., and departs from Lake Placid at 7 a.m. and 3:10 p.m.