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5-route bus ride plan rolled out

A.T. Stoddard of LSC Transportation Consultants talks about five possible bus routes during a hearing about public transportation. (Brian Loden The Vicksburg Post)

[12/14/04] Ideas for a five-route bus system were presented to local officials Monday night.

The system would carry a $3.2 million startup cost and about $700,000 annually to operate, with grants and fares offsetting the total.

Designers of the routes in Vicksburg and Warren County said low turnout at the hearing doesn’t mean people wouldn’t use the system. “It’s not because they’re not really interested,” said A.T. Stoddard of LSC Transportation Consultants. “They just don’t know what it is.”

Mayor Laurence Leyens who said he supports the project and Charles Rutkowski of the Community Transportation Association of America said much of the cost could be funded through federal grants, leaving the local taxpayers to fund nearly $1 million the first year and about $250,000 annually after that.

Fares $1 per passenger would generate about 10 percent of the cost, Rutkowski said. His specific projection was 61,000 riders per year.

“I’m willing to support this because it makes sense as a way to help get people to their jobs,” Leyens said.

The draft proposal is being presented again to city and county boards today and at a second public meeting set for 6 tonight at Hawkins United Methodist Church Abundant Life Center.

The draft plan recommends forming a Transportation Advisory Committee that would oversee the development of a Vicksburg Warren County Transit Department, hire a manager and oversee startup of the program.

If work began next year, Rutkowski said buses could start rolling about midyear 2006.

The five proposed routes would provide specific stops at local industries and retail areas, and would include flexible service to areas as needed.

At one time, Vicksburg was served by buses along most of the main streets of Vicksburg and as far north as Kings. The company went out of business in the 1960s.

An experiment with trolley-based transportation was conducted in the 1990s, but there was very low demand.

Today, there is no public transportation except for taxis.