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Hall Area Transit seeking public input on future needs
A Gainesville Connection bus sits at the transfer station Monday afternoon on Main Street in Gainesville. Hall Area Transit, which is developing a plan addressing future needs and recommendations for possible service options, wants the public’s input, scheduling community sessions for 9-10:30 a.m. and 1:30-3 p.m. Thursday at the Community Service Center on Prior Street in Gainesville.

Hall Area Transit

What: Public sessions on agency plan looking at future transit needs

When: 9-10:30 a.m. and 1:30-3 p.m. Thursday

Where: Community Service Center, 430 Prior St. SE, Gainesville

Hall County’s primary public transportation service is seeking the public’s input as it looks to address future transit needs.

Hall Area Transit has scheduled public sessions for 9-10:30 a.m. and 1:30-3 p.m. Thursday on the 5-year Hall Area Transit Development Plan, which is expected to be completed by Nov. 30.

“This (plan) will address future transit needs and include recommendations for future service options throughout Gainesville and Hall County,” said Sam Baker, transportation planning manager for the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, Hall’s lead transportation planning agency.

At the sessions, information will be presented about “existing and projected conditions that influence transit,” as well as ridership and trip numbers, according to an MPO flier.

Presentations will be followed by question-and-answer sessions.

Hall Area Transit, which has served Gainesville and Hall since 1983, primarily operates a fixed-route bus service with limited routes, Gainesville Connection, and Dial-A-Ride, a curbside transportation service that requires reservations at least 48 hours before pickup.

There have been past talks concerning expanding the fixed-route system and particularly developing some kind of bus link or express service that could help commuters get to Atlanta.

Phillippa Lewis Moss, director of the Gainesville-Hall County Community Service Center, which operates Hall Area Transit, has said she believes area officials need to “rethink how we do local funding for transit.”

And it needs to be done with some urgency, as federal dollars that could be tapped are slipping away.

“In just over a decade, Gainesville-Hall County has forfeited over $6 million dollars in federal funds for urban transit services,” Moss said in a November 2015 interview.

The transit plan under development costs $62,500 and is being funded with a transit planning grant from the Federal Transit Administration through the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The current plan dates to 2008.

Officials believe “that an update of the plan would be beneficial now,” Baker said.