Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bus Service Coming to Ponte Vedra Next Month; the Service Will Aid Businesses by Serving Workers Who Don't Live in the Area

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bus Service Coming to Ponte Vedra Next Month; the Service Will Aid Businesses by Serving Workers Who Don't Live in the Area

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTINA ABEL

Starting next month, workers who live in Duval County but work in Ponte Vedra Beach can take a $1.50 bus ride to their job.

The bus service into northern St. Johns County will start Sept. 3 to help businesses and their employees who lost moderately-priced apartment housing to condo conversions.

Mike Miller, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority's director of external affairs, announced the new route at a Wednesday transportation meeting in Jacksonville Beach.

Community leaders and businesses began the effort for a bus to cross the St. Johns county line two years ago, after many of the apartments in Ponte Vedra Beach where employees lived were converted to condos, pricing them out of the market.

"Currently their workforce has no means of public transportation," Miller said.

Jeffrey Oliasami, the Sawgrass Marriott general manager who has been instrumental in getting the route planned, said the service will benefit all Ponte Vedra Beach businesses.

"This means so much for all of the businesses in Ponte Vedra Beach, large and small," Oliasami said. "People want to work in St. Johns County, but they haven't been able to get to us."

In the first phase of the new bus route, people who need transportation to the Sawgrass Village and Winn-Dixie on Solana Road may catch a JTA bus at four Duval County locations: the Gateway mall in north Jacksonville, the downtown JTA hub, St. Johns Town Center and at Southbeach Parkway in Jacksonville Beach.

Then, by early next year the JTA plans to add service to bring employees from around the Jacksonville area to Baptist Medical Center-Beaches in Jacksonville Beach.

Miller has been working with hospital administrator Mark Slyter, who needs to fill jobs with employees from the broader Jacksonville area.

Jacksonville Beach City Councilwoman Penny Christian said the process has taken a long time, but it's been worth it to see the plan the JTA has developed. …

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