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Bus fare in federal budget
Hinesville area transit gets stimulus money
The original buses were to be this size, but current plans are for the purchase of 28-passenger vehicles.
Hinesville is now officially on the federal register and guaranteed to receive just over $1.33 million in stimulus funds, all of which the mayor guarantees will go toward building the city’s first transit system.
“These are the funds we’d use to buy capital item such as buses,” City Manager Billy Edwards said at last week’s city council meeting.
According to Rachel Hatcher with Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission, 50 percent of the funds provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act must be committed by Sept. 1 and the other 50 percent must be committed by next March 5.
In order to meet those deadlines, the city has to act fast.
Edwards said they will start purchasing essential components as soon as they get the funds.
“We’ll start buying probably sometime in June or July,” he said.
Edwards said the transit system will follow the plan that Whitney Shephard, with RS&H Infrastructure, outlined at the March 19 council meeting. Shephard proposed a three-route system with nine 28-passenger buses.
“We’re looking to purchase vehicles in July, and start the system in November of this year,” she said.
The mayor said the routes were determined based on population and commercial density. The routes include heavily frequented locations such as Fort Stewart, Wal-Mart, Liberty Regional Medical Center, the high schools and other public venues.
“It will absolutely include in the first year Brewton-Parker, AASU [Liberty Campus], YMCA and restaurants,” Shephard said.
Thomas said they’ll frequently add onto the system and hope to include stops at Savannah Tech and a few designated areas in Walthourville soon.
“Every year we’ll have an opportunity to expand the routes,” he said.
The funds, now significantly expanded, will also cover associated costs such as purchasing shelters and other related equipment, short range planning activities and public surveys.
The city is buying the buses from Veolia Transportation.
The hours of operation will be weekdays 6 a.m.-to 6 p.m., Fridays 6 a.m.-9:45 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m.-9:45 p.m. Shephard estimated buses will arrive at the stops every 30-40 minutes.
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