Bus service that will connect Wichita and Salina and provide southwest Kansas a link to the national intercity bus network will begin Nov. 9. The route will include a stop in Newton.


Bus service that will connect Wichita and Salina and provide southwest Kansas a link to the national intercity bus network will begin Nov. 9. The route will include a stop in Newton.
  The service, called the Beeline Express, will provide two round-trips daily between Salina and Wichita and one round-trip daily between Wichita and Pueblo, Colo. The new lines will be operated by Prestige Bus Lines of Wichita.  
The pick-up location in Newton will be the Best Western Red Coach Inn at 1301 E. First St., just off of Interstate 135.
The estimated 100-mile trip between Wichita and Salina will take about an hour and 45 minutes.
Both routes are the result of agreements between the Kansas Department of Transportation and Prestige, with an additional agreement on the Wichita-to-Pueblo route between the Colorado Department of Transportation and Prestige.
“These routes will restore intercity bus service to southwest Kansas, which has lacked a connection to the national bus system for years,” Joel Skelley, state multimodal planner for KDOT, said in a news release. “This route, along with the Wichita-to-Salina route, will provide an important service to Kansans who have no other travel options or simply prefer to ride, rather than drive.”
Federal funding is being used to purchase two new buses for each route and to assist with operating expenses such as fuel, personnel and maintenance.
A portion of the funds come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Under the Recovery Act, 15 percent of the rural transit allocation in each state must be used for intercity transit. That figure in Kansas is about $2 million.
Dave Rockey, owner of Prestige Bus Lines, said the two new routes have been carefully planned with the goal of meeting both passenger comforts and freight hauling needs.
 "We expect a great deal of interest along these heavily traveled routes both from the passenger's standpoint and those who choose to ship freight with us," he said in a news release. "Passengers will be pleased with our comfort, scheduling and reliability, while at the same time, offering shippers a convenient and affordable freight option."
Rockey said there is a need for the change.
"There is a real need for this route," Rockey said. "Thousands of people regularly travel between Wichita and Salina and until now, their only option has been a private vehicle. With soaring gas and insurance prices, we offer an affordable, reliable transportation option."
Tickets will be available for purchase on Nov. 8.
For more information about the service, routes and travel times, visit www.Beeline-Express.com. For the first week of operation, there will be a special charge of $1 each way of the trip.