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RTS Project Aims To Make Bus System More Available For East Gainesville Residents

A door-to-door transit service is expected to hit the streets of East Gainesville in the spring of 2019.

The RTS Connect Pilot Project will serve the community by providing a ride to RTS passengers to the nearest bus stop from their houses in the morning and to their homes from their bus stops in the evening, according to Chip Skinner, City of Gainesville spokesperson.

He said that a van will drive up to 12 people at a time from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. on weekdays, and again from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., at no extra cost to passengers.

Four different vans will make trips every 15-20 minutes during the designated hours throughout four zones of East Gainesville. The program would affect bus routes 7, 11, 25, 26 and 39.

This program will address the First Mile/Last Mile travel constraints that decrease public transportation ridership because customers are less likely to use public transit if they have to walk a significant distance to get to it.

“This is a nationwide problem. People will not use public transportation if they have to walk significant distances,” Skinner said.

He said that the hope is to increase ridership and open up job opportunities for people on the east side of Gainesville.

Eighty-four percent of the 113,010 jobs in Gainesville are located to the west of Main Street, according to the RTS report.

The hope for this program is to increase job opportunities for residents of East Gainesville by increasing accessibility to public transit.

Starling Jinkins, an entrepreneur and resident of Southeast Gainesville, said that he and others, especially the elderly, could benefit from the RTS Connect Pilot Project.

“With this, this can relieve, you know, the regular transit systems of Gainesville,” Jinkins said, “This can be a relief that people can get on.”

Customers who participate in the program may be required to register with RTS in order to give drivers a better understanding of their service routes.

Diane Row, a resident of East Gainesville for more than 20 years, said that she rode the bus for four years when she was employed at Santa Fe College.

According to posts on lolomove.com, during that time, a couple people who rode the bus and were forced to walk extended distances if their bus was late so that they could be at work on time.

This program would benefit a lot of people, Row said.

“I think it’s just awesome what they’re doing, the plan they have in place,” Row said.

The estimated cost of the project is $594,278 if it is implemented in one year, according to the report.

Ellie is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.