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Hall transit system on the move

Station to relocate; planners have proposed routes for next 5 years

POSTED: March 7, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Robin Michener Nathan/The Times

Cars fill the parking lot at a bus station on Buford Highway next to Interstate 985 Exit 4 on Friday morning.

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GAINESVILLE — After garnering nearly 450 responses from the general public last fall, the Gainesville-
Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization has proposed five years of new routes and extended routes to better serve the riders of Hall Area Transit.

The proposed five-year changes primarily address growth in bus riders. Hall Area Transit has about 30 percent more riders than it did two years ago, said Srikanth Yamala, senior transportation planner for the organization.

"Right now, we are just looking at what the routes can be in the next five years," Yamala said.

"This will just serve as a strategic guide for the next five years so that folks could be like ‘OK, my area is being served, say, in the next two years.’"

The planning organization is holding a public meeting Tuesday evening at the Georgia Mountains Center to give the community an opportunity to comment on the proposed changes.

In the first year, the transfer station will be moved to 687 Main St., and the planning organization has proposed to divide the blue, gold and red routes to better accommodate the riders on those routes.

"The existing three routes would be split into six routes," Yamala said.

The gold route would begin to serve Brenau University, the Featherbone Communiversity and the Social
Security Administration building on Thompson Bridge Road, Yamala said.

The planning organization has also proposed the creation of a purple route, which in the first year will travel from Lakeshore Mall to Memorial Park Drive via Atlanta Highway.

Later, the purple route could go to Gainesville State College and to the new library in Flowery Branch.

Yamala says that if the public makes it known on Tuesday, the extension to Gainesville State College could come in the first year.

"This is not a rigid document; this is a planning document, and folks could make the final changes happen," Yamala said.

The planning organization has also proposed a flexible route that would travel south on U.S. 129 to the county line. Yamala said members of the Hispanic community said they would be more inclined to use Hall Area Transit if it served Atlanta Highway and Athens Highway. Extending bus service to these areas, if only at peak times, would better serve the Hispanic community, Yamala said.

In five years, the planners hope to incorporate a commuter bus that either connects with the Gwinnett Area Transit, the MARTA station in Doraville, Hartsfield-Jackson airport or that goes straight to downtown Atlanta.

However, the planners are looking to the public to tell them the transit options that would serve them best.

"We are looking for as many comments we could get so we can take comments from this meeting and take it to our policy committee in March," Yamala said.

After the planners hear from the public, they will take their proposals to local elected officials for approval. If approved, the proposed changes will become effective January 2009.


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