VALDOSTA -- Lowndes County commissioners will take up several issues designed to bring a countywide public transit system online at today's regular meeting.

The Board will consider a third-party operating contract with MIDS Inc. to run the system on a daily basis as well as a required contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation for operation of a public transportation system. Commissioners will also vote on a drug and alcohol policy required by the DOT.

Rod Casey, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said the system would be a great boon to county residents and provide a much needed alternative to a segment of the county that has struggled to secure reliable transportation.

"I think it will be (good for residents)," he said. "The county has been working on a public transportation system for years, so we are very pleased. It is going to serve the entire county, hit most of the major spots in town. ... It will provide ways to work, ways to doctors, ways to the grocery store for those who are indigent or seniors. I'm very excited about the program."

While MIDS will operate the system, which is slated for a Dec. 3 opening, the county has agreed to provide three vehicles. The fleet will initially consist of two 16-passenger vans with a wheelchair lift and one 13-passenger van.

The county will also agree to provide advisory assistance, marketing assistance and will allow MIDS to purchase fuel from the county.

The proposed contract specifies goals of no fewer than 1,500 one-way trips per vehicle, per month with operating hours of 7:30 a.m. -- 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The system will begin with two primary routes, one from Lake Park to Valdosta and another from Valdosta to Hahira, with 40 total stops.

Residents will also be able to utilize a demand-response service. With at least 24 hours notice, residents can schedule a specific pick-up and drop-off location. This service is targeted specifically at social service riders -- such as Medicaid recipients -- who have set appointment times.

Costs for social service riders will be subsidized or paid for by the social service agency.

Costs for others will be $3 for a standard fare, $5 for a demand-response fare within 0-10 miles and $8 for demand response fares from 11-25 miles.

Commissioners will also take up several rezoning requests -- including a proposed subdivision on Knights Ferry Road in southwest Lowndes County that drew nearly 100 concerned residents to voice their opposition when the matter was considered by the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission.

That body unanimously recommended denial of the rezoning request, but Ken Altman, the developer of the proposal, promised to continue his rezoning push before the County Commission.

The Board will also consider several bids for services, including one to install a raw water main for the North Lowndes Water Supply.



To contact reporter Bill Roberts, please call 244-3400, ext. 245.



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