Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

East Side, West Side, around Amelia, Too; Nassau: Buses Could Run in September

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

East Side, West Side, around Amelia, Too; Nassau: Buses Could Run in September

Article excerpt

Byline: Amelia A. Hart, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

A state-funded public transportation system should begin operating in Nassau County by September.

Four minibuses on two routes with fixed stops in Fernandina Beach, Callahan, Hilliard and Yulee will transport riders from the west side of Nassau County to the east side, and around Amelia Island. The east-west fare is expected to be $2; the island fare, $1.

"It's a good opportunity," said Steve Arseneau, community transportation coordinator for Nassau County. "The DOT [Florida Department of Transportation] is giving us this money to get it started and see if it will fly."

The DOT is providing $108,000 to buy two of the buses, and another $236,000 to run the service for three years, said Gwendolyn Pra, district transit programs manager.

Nassau County will provide $109,000 to buy two additional buses. The Nassau County Council on Aging, which operates Caravan, will administer the new shuttle system.

"We have been working on it for a while," Commissioner Marianne Marshall said. "We're really excited about it. There is a huge demand for it in our county."

The state funding comes from a service development program designed to provide seed money for innovative projects in hopes that they take hold in the community, Pra said.

The state completed a transportation study of Nassau County in 2001, and saw there was a serious need for public transportation, Pra said. DOT has funded the start-up of similar bus systems in Baker, St. Johns, Clay and Putnam counties, she said.

"It can be a very good thing for an area as rural and spread out as Nassau," Pra said. "It can kind of bring the four communities together."

Nassau County and the state finalized their agreement June 1, paving the way for Arseneau to order the handicapped-accessible minibuses. …

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