By JOSHUA WOLFSON
Beginning today, Greyhound buses connecting Sonora to Modesto will hit the road a little earlier.
The daily morning bus will now leave at 6:45 a.m. instead of 8. The change will allow riders to reach the Modesto Amtrak station in time to catch connecting trains to Southern California or the Bay area.
Supporters of the service, which has attracted few users, hope the schedule change will boost ridership.
"We hope this will make a difference," said Hope Hill, who worked to bring Greyhound service back to Sonora after it ended in 1988. "People who want to go down and catch the train can now do it."
An earlier start will also allow foothills students attending California State University Stanislaus or Modesto Junior College to use the bus to get to morning classes, Hill said.
The change was prompted by community and rider feedback, she said.
Greyhound's other Sonora routes will remain the same. Daily buses will continue to leave at 7:05 p.m. and arrive back at 10:15 a.m. and 8:05 p.m. The trip takes about one hour and 45 minutes.
Greyhound Bus service returned to Sonora a year ago, but ridership has been low. During the first three months of operation, the service averaged fewer than six riders a day.
Despite the numbers, a committee of California transportation officials this fall approved a federal grant of nearly $78,000 to cover a second year of operation. This will cover about half of the route's projected annual deficit of $155,600. Greyhound will pay the remaining costs.