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Liberty Transit proposes route changes starting Nov. 1
Liberty transit
Liberty Transit runs buses throughout Hinesville, Fort Stewart and a few other locations. - photo by File photo

 Liberty Transit is proposing changes to the major routes and schedules of the local bus services in Hinesville. 

The recent Transit Development Plan, approved by Hinesville City Council in May, is a pre-requisite for the receipt of federal and state funding, according to Liberty Transit’s website. The TDP is evaluated every five years. 

The purpose of the updated TDP provides transit agencies opportunity to define the public’s transportation needs, gather input from stakeholders and the public, identify capital and operational deficiencies and define needed courses of action, the website continued. 

A recent flyer distributed by Liberty Transit outlines the new service changes and proposed route maps and schedules. BSCE and EIT Planner III for Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission Nils Gustavson presented the proposed changes at the Hinesville City Council meeting Sept. 20.

“We’ve got the maps and schedules done, we’ve been delivering it to all passengers using Liberty Transit, and so far we haven’t gotten any feedback, either positive or negative, which is a good thing,” Gustavson said.

The service changes include: one route for Fort Stewart; all routes will stop at Liberty Regional Medical Center; the creation of more direct routes; a consistent and simple schedule; and current routes were matched where possible, the flyer said.

Route 1, or red, will have a consistent headway of 75 minutes between buses, with 11 runs. It includes service runs three times a day to Walthourville and eight times to the YMCA. It will replace the current orange route, or route 8, that contains mixed headways and 13 runs, according to the flyer.

“Headway is when the bus goes past, it’s the amount of time before it goes past again,” Gustavson said. “If it goes past at 6:18 a.m., then 7:23 a.m., then 9:45 a.m., we had headways varying from 30 minutes to two hours. By simplifying, we have headways about 75 minutes, and two routes are 90 minutes.”

The new route 2, or green, will have 90 minutes between buses and nine runs. It replaces the current route 7 with different headways, with service to Savannah Tech on Monday-Thursday two times a day, and service to Food Lion two times a day Monday-Friday.

Route 3, or blue, has a 90 minute headway between buses, with six runs and no limited service. It will replace the current purple route, or route 6, with limited service to the north part of Fort Stewart.

The proposed route changes slim the service down from four routes to three, limiting service to Fort Stewart, and creating more reliable headway between buses in order to create a better served route for the public.

With the recent update, a complementary paratransit service will be initiated. Public transit agencies that run fixed route services must also provide an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) complementary paratransit service, according to the website. This allows those unable to use the fixed route services a way to travel separately.

The service will provide a high level of service and dependability with two buses available at any one time — with extensive driver training and accurate documentation to log each trip, according to the flyer.

Liberty Transit held a required public hearing at the Sept. 20 council meeting. There, a community resident against the proposed changes spoke to council addressing the issues and concerns about the transit services.

In a letter she submitted to Mayor Allen Brown, Dona Black addresses issues specific to her occupation as a teacher on Fort Stewart.

“Ten months out of the year I use the bus to get to and from work,” Black said. “In the beginning it was an hour-long commute including a bus change to go 3.6 miles. The proposed schedule changes eliminate both my stops. In the future, I’ll need to bike a mile and a half in the dark most along Highway 84 to Liberty Regional where I’ll be able to ride to Winn Army Hospital, then walk two miles to the school. The personal safety issues distress me.”

All proposed route changes and the new paratransit services are expected to begin Nov.1. Public comment is open until Sept. 27.

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