LAKE PLACID - Public transportation fans in Essex County gave a warm welcome to the Mountain Valley Shuttle system Dec. 18.
A joint effort between the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), Essex County and the New York State Department of Transportation, the new system offers extended service between Lake Placid and Au Sable Forks and will work in cooperation with the year-round Lake Placid Xpress service.
The Plattsburgh-based business Ground Force 1 will operate and maintain the shuttle.
ORDA vice president Jeffrey Byrne noted that the new transportation service is being introduced at a time when many residents are looking for ways to save dollars.
"We thought now would be the perfect time to implement this system," said Byrne. "This new partnership and expanded shuttle service will help transport area employees, skiers and riders, shoppers, senior citizens - anyone who needs to move from town to town and wants to do so at no cost."
The Town's of Jay, Wilmington and North Elba worked closely with ORDA and officials from the Essex County Department of Transportation to acquire NYSDOT Job Access Reserve Commute (JARC) funding - money that was essential in expanding the existing shuttle route.
Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas said that re-establishing a public transit route between Au Sable Forks and ORDA facilities has always been one of his primary goals.
"Many of my constituents rely on ORDA for employment and this agreement only enhances their opportunities," Douglas said. "It has been a pleasure to work with ORDA, Essex County Transportation Coordinator Nancy Dougal, NYS Department of Transportation representative Mike Labello, towns of Wilmington and North Elba supervisors Randy Preston and Roby Politi, and the Essex County Visitors Bureau to make this public transportation route a reality."
Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston added that employees and tourists alike will be able to travel throughout the region with ease and for free.
"I am extremely happy that we have been able to form this relationship," he said.
Mountain Valley Shuttle offers rides four times a day between Au Sable Forks, Jay and Whiteface. Shuttle stops are at the Grand Union in Au Sable Forks and the Village of Jay Park. Wilmington's shuttle will run four times daily between the Wilmington Visitors Bureau and Whiteface. During weekends and holidays, shuttle service will occur 12 times daily, with additional stops at Whiteface Chalet.
A complete list of shuttle times and stops can be found at lakeplacid.com/dbsearch/planyourtrip.cfm#travel. For more information about public transportation in Essex County, call 1-800-914-9266.