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City to change Red Rabbit routes

Officials seek public input on specifics in upcoming meetings

POSTED: October 27, 2009 11:17 p.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Walter Hunter exits a Red Rabbit bus Monday afternoon at the Hall Area Transit station on Main Street as he prepares to make a bus transfer. Changes to Hall Area Transit routes are being planned as well as public meetings that will give residents the chance to weigh in on them.

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An expansion of Hall Area Transit’s Red Rabbit bus service is imminent, but officials with the service want to talk to residents once more about the specifics.

The Gainesville-Hall County Community Service Center will hold three meetings next week to garner input from residents on proposed changes to the Red Rabbit bus service.

Hall Area Transit has plans to reconfigure two existing routes and add one new route to the fixed-route service. The changes will provide service along Atlanta Highway to Gainesville State College, add stops at AVITA Community Partners, Featherbone Communiversity and more direct service to Brenau University as early as January 2010.

The expansion will cost approximately $800,000, with three-fourths of the cost going toward the purchase of four new buses.

Community Service Center Director Phillippa Lewis Moss said the Federal Transportation Administration and the state Department of Transportation will foot the bill for 95 percent of the bus purchase.

Transportation officials expect that the expansion will increase ridership on the Red Rabbit service since it will cater to students in the community who, for years, have requested service at local colleges.

“The couple of places that we’re going for sure that we’re really excited about is that finally we’re getting back to Gainesville State College, finally we’re going to be having a direct drop off at the Featherbone Communiversity and then, we’re going to be having some additional bus stops along Brenau,” said Community Service Center Director Phillippa Lewis Moss. “So getting back to the educational institutions, it is something we have been waiting for for so long. It is going to make a big difference, and students are just thrilled about it.”

The changes to the routes are based on recommendations made by the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization. The organization made the recommendations after hearing from residents at separate meetings in the last two years.

Lewis-Moss said transit officials are seeking help from residents and users of the service to find out where they should put bus stops and how to configure the routes.

“We’ve actually ordered buses and are lining up to hire staff and things like that so all that’s left to do is to make sure that what we heard from the community several months ago is still what they agree to,” Lewis-Moss said. “And then to get some specific information from the community such as where do you want a bus stop or a bench, what street should we turn right on compared to left. So it’s just, these meetings are really getting specific recommendations and suggestions as to how the buses will actually move along the streets because the overall concept is done. They’ve already approved it, they’ve already asked for it and so this is just our responding back to them and getting more feedback.”



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