Buses by the numbers
• 3: Number of buses running at a given time
• 5: Number of days per week the buses run (Monday-Friday)
• $1-$2: Cost to ride the bus
• 1,190: Average number of bus passengers over the past two months
• $737,576: The transit system’s fiscal year 2013 operating budget
• $641,017: The transit system’s proposed fiscal year 2014 operating budget
Liberty Transit System, which operates the county’s buses, still has the full support of Hinesville’s mayor and city manager, despite recent budget cuts that resulted in fewer buses on the road and shorter hours of operation.
Transit supervisor Arlene White spoke Tuesday to the Hinesville Rotary Club at the LaQuinta Inn about the system, which has been operating since October 2010. She said the city owns nine buses, which are maintained and parked at the public-works department, CH2MHILL/OMI. Only three buses are on the road at a given time, and they cover three routes that serve Hinesville, Flemington and Fort Stewart. White said the transit system essentially runs from 5:50 a.m.-7:25 p.m, Monday through Friday. There no longer is any service on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
White said transit riders pay $1, regardless of where they get on or off the bus. For $2, she said, riders can ride the bus all day.
She said the most popular stops include Walmart, Winn Army Community Hospital, Fort Stewart’s Main Post Exchange, Liberty Regional Medical Center, the YMCA and the city library. Plans for expanded services include the new Veterans Affairs Clinic when it’s completed in January 2014 and the new Liberty Center for Armstrong Atlantic State University when it’s completed in January 2015.
“Our buses can deviate from their regular route in order to provide curbside service to some customers,” White said. “Our passengers are teachers, students, the elderly, soldiers and just everyday people. I’m proud to be part of a system that takes care of people.”
White was introduced by Rotarian John Baker, owner of Happy Acres Mobile Home Park. He told club members that White is retired from civil service, having worked in logistics on Fort Stewart. She also is retired from the Georgia Army National Guard.
“I want to say this about the transit system,” Baker said. “I have an employee who rides the bus to and from work every day. She’s always on time because her bus is always on time.”
White was unable to answer a few of the questions asked by Rotary members, so the Courier posed the same questions to Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards. He said the transit system has averaged 1,190 passengers during the past two months. The trend is toward an increase in passengers, he said.
“The (fiscal year) 2013 operating budget is $737,576,” Edwards said. “The FY 2014 proposed budget is $641,017... We revised (or) reduced our routes and schedules during the course of our current fiscal year. Our budgeted current year general-fund contribution is $340,094. The proposed FY 2014 (budget) is currently at $218,312. The FY 2014 contribution will be less than the FY 2013 contribution as a result of the route (and) schedule changes that were made during FY 2013 being in effect for an entire fiscal year.”
Edwards said the city is looking at expanded route changes that, on a limited basis, would take buses up E.G. Miles Parkway to Airport Road, then up Airport Road and back to E. G. Miles Parkway. He said they will continue to monitor the transit system and make decisions based on new information as it becomes available to them.
In other business Tuesday, Rotary Vice President Brigitte Cabeza Shanken reported that the club raised $476 during its Sept. 4 celebrity bartending event at the LaQuinta Inn. Member Paul Andreshak reported the club raised $648 from auction items and more than $700 in ticket sales at the Sept. 7 Ballroom Extravaganza charity event at the Marriott in downtown Savannah.