Beginning as the Chino Valley Transit System in 2010, the project was spearheaded by current YRT chairman Ron Romley and his wife Cheri. The Romley’s, along with a small but dedicated group of volunteers, obtained, maintained, and drove the small bus system along a limited route inside Chino Valley, funded by whatever donations and support they could gather.
Hitting the pavement and speaking to many service groups, clubs, and the Chino Valley Town council, the local transit system slowly but confidently grew by registering as a non-profit organization and going after several grants. In October 2013 the group received $400,000 in Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) grant money, allowing them to grow and take on a new name - the Yavapai Regional Transit Authority.
The expanded routes include regular trips to Prescott and will soon extend to Prescott Valley. One way trips throughout the route cost riders $2.00, $1.00 for seniors, and round trip tickets are $4.00 ($2.00/seniors).
Special multi-trip and holiday rates are also available at a discount.
For many riders, the YRT is the only option they have to run errands, visit health care providers, and participate in social activities such as programs at the Chino Valley Senior Center, one of the most popular destinations.
Mary (last names withheld), who is confined to a wheelchair, would be homebound if not for the YRT. Speaking through her caregiver, Mary said a great feature is the door-to-door service she gets from her south Chino home to the Chino Valley Senior Center where she enjoys outings every week.
Because of the YRT, Mary is able to enjoy socializing, meals out, and interaction that, according to her caregiver, contribute to her overall well being, allowing her independence and a sense of dignity she otherwise would miss out on.
For long time YRT passenger Katie, everyday activities like shopping and banking would be impossible without the YRT.
“I ride here in Chino every week to go shopping and on (some days) ride in Prescott for doctors appointments,” said Katie. Before the system was set up Mary relied on taxis, which she is now financially unable to do. “I couldn't go anywhere without the bus.”
For Mark, a young twenty-something rider who latched his mountain bike to the front bumper of a Prescott bound bus, the YRT was his way to get into Prescott to make the used car lot circuit.
“I need some new transportation because my van is just too expensive to maintain and drive,” said Mark. In previous years Mark was able to use the system on a regular basis for his frequent trips into Prescott, but with his current Chino Valley full time job, those trips are no longer necessary.
Not so for his dad, also named Mark, who is a regular YRT passenger.
“I usually use the bus two to three times a week for trips both in Chino and into Prescott,” said Mark Sr. “It’s just more affordable. I save about $500.00 a month versus using a cab and about $120.00 a month compared to using my own vehicle.”
YRT volunteer Lisa Mickler sees her days spent logging in riders and handling driver paperwork as a vital community service that her riders need to survive.
“The deviations are really important,” said Mickler. The deviations, or special pickups and deliveries, consist of door to door service outside of the regular stops. “Many of our riders are elderly and can’t even get from their homes to the bus stops. This gives them independence, dignity, and allows them to take care of what they need to do without being a burden on their friends or families.”
Mickler said that the YRT volunteers and drivers have now become like family to many of the riders.
“They have a lot of fun on our buses, especially with me and Darrell (Barwick, a 4-year driver). Ours is the fun bus,” said Mickler.
For information on the standard routes or riders in need of deviation pickup and delivery can contact the YRT by visiting www.yavapairegionaltransit.com or by calling 928-636-3602.