City buses expected to arrive here Friday|[5/09/06]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Seven minibuses for Vicksburg’s transit system are due Friday, officials said, more than a month later than initially expected.

The delivery, however, will not trigger a definite starting date for the routes, said Mayor Laurence Leyens, though it does give officials a better idea of when passengers will be able to board. That step may still be several weeks away.

&#8220We’re interviewing potential employees,” Leyens said, noting the delay in getting the buses was due to problems attaching bike racks to the vehicles. &#8220We’re going to have to have a week or two of training.”

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The city’s last effort to institute a transit system, a network of downtown trolleys during the Joe Loviza administration, failed to catch on 11 years ago.

The new plan is to operate the buses in 40-minute intervals from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to more than a dozen stops, some of which are yet to be determined, said Evelyn Bumpers, hired from Meridian to be transportation director here.

The plan is to make the system as flexible as possible, with routes tailored to demand.

Fare per trip will be $1.50 for regular routes and $3 for passengers who want to arrange nonscheduled routes.

The fares will cover about 10 percent of the operating cost, with most funding for the system coming from federal and state grants, city revenue, the Warren County Board of Supervisors, and donations from area businesses.

A $488,000 federal grant covered purchase of the buses.

The city amended its budget in April, depositing $181,550 into the bus fund and authorizing the spending of $237,790 to get the system running. The remaining $250,000 went into the general fund to be apportioned for other projects.

The city decided to create the system, dubbed NRoute, after a Chamber of Commerce study showed a demand, especially among older people. Mayor Laurence Leyens said spiking fuel prices will also make the system helpful for workplace commutes.

Among the spots that have been initially set for pick-up: