Community celebrates Appaloosa Express expansion

LAPWAI, ID - Community members gathered Monday morning to celebrate the grand opening of a new facility for the Nez Perce Tribe's Appaloosa Express transit system.

It took a substantial amount of time, work and money, but it was all worth it for the Nez Perce Tribe's Appaloosa Express Transit system who celebrated the opening of their new bus facility.

"It's very comfortable for us up here," said Appaloosa Express Transit driver Mary Jeannie Strong. "We really enjoy it, the privacy mainly, and we can keep our buses inside, especially in the winter."

"For us, this is just a start of what we're doing," said Nez Perce Tribe Chairman Brooklyn Baptiste. "I think it's a great start to building relationships with communities and I hope that it prospers."

This year alone, the Appaloosa Express served over 21,000 people. Now, each bus holds up to 24 people and runs from 5:30 in the morning to 7p.m.

"It's really exciting that the transit is growing and our ridership is growing and the need and to have some nice secure place for a bus, it's exciting for the whole community," said Nez Perce Tribe Transportation Planner MaryBeth Frank.

Several federal agencies and the Nez Perce Tribe funded the nearly $500,000, seven bus garage, which even includes a washing station.

"I think that we've been waiting for it for a long time," said Strong.

"It is a very good step," said Frank. "A giant step actually."

"It will increase our ridership," said Appaloosa Express Transit driver Randy Brown. "Let the public know that we are out there, we're available."

Currently the buses run three routes from Culdesac, Orofino and Kooskia to Lewiston and back. Individual trips cost no more than $2.00.

"Our drivers are very hospitable and they do what they can to accommodate all of the members in the community," said Baptiste.

"I'm feeling really good," said Strong. "I really fell that we've had a lot of support from a lot of people."

Community members may also purchase a monthly pass that ranges from $30 to $45.