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Rural Alaska

Bethel to apply for transit grant despite missing deadline

BETHEL - Officials in Bethel have been given the go-ahead to apply for an Alaska public transit grant despite missing the deadline.

The Bethel City Council voted Tuesday to apply for the $300,000 grant after residents warned that the city’s bus service would stop in June 2020 if action is not taken, KYUK-AM reported.

The grant application was due to the state Department of Transportation on Dec. 17. The grant requires a city match of $80,000.

The state grant would fund a new bus, a full-time transit manager, and a part-time and full-time driver.

Tundra Women's Coalition Executive Director Eileen Arnold urged the council to apply, saying the bus system is vital for people who cannot afford a cab or cannot walk long distances in subzero temperatures.

"As the executive director of TWC, we are huge users of the bus system, perhaps the largest one," Arnold said. "It's really important for the people who are in our shelter."

Bethel resident Susan Charles said she has taken the bus since it started operating in Bethel. Continuing to fund the system makes sense, she said.

“We need to get to work, and go home for lunch, and whatever we need to do - go shopping, go to the post office - and the bus system provides that for us here in Bethel,” Charles said.

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