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Published October 17, 2013, 10:13 AM

Jefferson Lines bus stop back in Jamestown

Improvements, issues being discussed
JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- Jefferson Lines buses are rolling through Jamestown again, but there are still a few kinks with the bus service’s local stop. Jefferson Lines, which resumed service in Jamestown on Oct. 1 after a five-month closure, now stops two times each day on First Avenue West near Babb’s Coffee House. The 1:40 p.m. bus is westbound to Bismarck, and the 10:05 p.m. bus heads east toward Fargo, according to Jefferson Lines’ online schedule.

By: Charly Haley, Forum News Service

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- Jefferson Lines buses are rolling through Jamestown again, but there are still a few kinks with the bus service’s local stop.

Jefferson Lines, which resumed service in Jamestown on Oct. 1 after a five-month closure, now stops two times each day on First Avenue West near Babb’s Coffee House.

The 1:40 p.m. bus is westbound to Bismarck, and the 10:05 p.m. bus heads east toward Fargo, according to Jefferson Lines’ online schedule.

The only shelter for bus riders at the bus stop’s location is the small, three-sided shelter near the railroad tracks, which is unheated.

Jamestown City Council member Charlie Kourajian said he’s been working to find a more permanent stop, which would provide a secure and heated place for bus riders.

“We’re really working hard, and not having any luck,” he said.

Kourajian said he has approached several property owners and business owners about a bus stop location.

He said he has a few more options, but if those don’t pan out, he’s thinking of pursuing a “mobile bus stop,” where a small, local bus would wait on First Avenue until the Jefferson Lines bus arrives. The local bus would provide somewhere heated and secure for bus riders during the winter.

“It’s a way to get by, but it isn’t near what we wanted,” he said.

Also, with winter approaching, it’s getting to be a little too late to try to construct a new, permanent bus shelter, Kourajian added.

Some local business owners have complained to Kourajian about bus riders loitering in their businesses because there isn’t a designated bus shelter.

The owner of Babb’s Coffee House, who declined to provide her name, said Wednesday at the coffeehouse that she’s not happy with the bus situation because some people wait for the bus in her store without buying anything.


Communication issues

There has also been some confusion about purchasing bus tickets.

Jefferson Lines tickets for the Jamestown stop are not sold locally and must be purchased online or by calling Jefferson Lines’ customer service, said Kevin Pursey, director of marketing at Jefferson Lines. The customer service phone number is (800) 451-5333.

Lt. Mitch Brecto, administrator and pastor at Jamestown’s Salvation Army, said he has wanted to purchase tickets for clients but hasn’t yet because of difficulties communicating with Jefferson Lines staff.

“I wish it was going better at this time,” he said, adding that the situation is “frustrating.”

Brecto said he has tried communicating with Jefferson Lines staff out of both Fargo and Minnesota since before the service started Oct. 1, only to receive “vague” instructions.

“We’ve been ready to go, it’s just the vagueness on their part,” he said. Jefferson Lines staff hadn’t even confirmed to Brecto that the service had officially started, he said.

The Salvation Army wants the bus service in Jamestown, Brecto said, because then he and his staff could send homeless clients to either Bismarck or Fargo, where there are more resources to help them.

Pursey said that to his knowledge, Jefferson Lines staff has been providing clear, step-by-step instructions to Jamestown Salvation Army staff, but he said Wednesday that he would follow up on the issue.

In addition to his communication concerns, Brecto said he’s been told that the Salvation Army will have to pay an extra $15 fee to order tickets through Fargo. That fee was not part of the process with Jefferson Lines’ previous Jamestown service, which sold tickets out of the Jamestown Truck Plaza and Café, Brecto said.

“We have to budget for these things,” and it’s difficult to do that when the situation is so unclear, he said.

Pursey said that while he’s not sure why there could be communication issues with Jamestown’s Salvation Army, Jefferson Lines has successfully partnered with other Salvation Army locations.


Possible expansion

Ticket sales have been steady for Jamestown, Pursey said, although he did not have exact sales figures available.

“We’ve been having several people getting on and off in Jamestown,” he said.

The bus service is looking at potentially having another line stop in Jamestown that would take passengers through Bismarck to Dickinson, he said. The current westbound line turns north in Bismarck toward Williston and Minot, he said.

Jefferson Lines probably won’t look at adding the line to Dickinson for at least 30 to 45 days, he said. If the additional stop is added in Jamestown, it would likely stop about 4 a.m., Pursey said.

Before restarting service in Jamestown Oct. 1, Jefferson Lines provided service with a bus stop and ticket office at the Truck Plaza and Cafe, according to Jamestown Sun archives. It took over bus service from Rimrock Stages, which had its service shut down by the U.S. Department of Transportation in March.

Jefferson Lines then ceased service in May when the Truck Plaza owner decided to discontinue providing the bus stop for business reasons.

According to its website, Jefferson Lines has stops in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.


Charly Haley is a reporter at The Jamestown Sun, a Forum Communications Co. newspaper. She can be reached at chaley@thejamestownsun.com.

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