The head of Hall Area Transit services plans to seek $750,000 in federal funds, in large part to expand the service’s hours. It’s the agency’s largest request in more than 10 years. Receiving the grant would require a matching $750,000 in local money, double the amount the city of Gainesville has previously provided.
Most of the money would go toward expanding Gainesville Connection — which provides scheduled bus service throughout Gainesville, Oakwood and unincorporated Hall County — according to Community Service Director Phillippa Lewis Moss.
Moss presented a resolution Thursday at a Gainesville City Council work session to request and accept funding from the Federal Transit Administration.
“This is our most ambitious application that we will be submitting,” Moss said. “We’re looking to possibly expand our operating hours from 4 a.m. to 8 at night.”
The largest expense to be covered by the request would be expanding the transit system’s operating hours from 12 to 16 hours a day, Moss said. Currently, Gainesville Connection operates Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. She said three or four additional employees would be added.
To ease the financial burden on the city, Moss said her goal is to get financial commitments of $8,000 to $10,000 apiece from eight to 12 companies over a two- to three-year period.
“The city is one source and then, as you guys know, we started a public-private initiative to have others pitch in,” Moss told city officials.
In addition to the expanded hours of operation, Moss said Gainesville Connection also would expand two routes — one to the new Mincey Marble Manufacturing site off Candler Highway near Calvary Church Road and the other to Mundy Mill Road and Thurmon Tanner Parkway in Oakwood.
She said Mincey Marble and the city of Oakwood have pledged funding.
Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown confirmed Thursday that the city put $20,000 in the 2018 fiscal year budget to partner with Gainesville Connection.
‘We’re looking to expand service to our industrial park,” Brown said. “I’ve talked with (Moss), and she and I have gotten together to review what their plans are. We need to go ahead and get some money in the budget and try to get an agreement together.”
Moss said Mincey Marble is “all in” and is making a generous contribution.
“It’s the businesses that suffer from lost productivity when their employees don’t show,” Moss said. “We have about half a dozen companies that we’re currently negotiating with.”
Moss said the federal funds would also pay for two electric vehicles, which she said could be the beginning of a downtown shuttle service. She said it also would pay for two large buses to be used along large arteries such as Jesse Jewell Parkway, Candler Highway and Queen City Parkway.
Moss she’s ready to submit the funding application once city council approves the corresponding resolution at its meeting Tuesday.
“It’s our federal allocation so there’s no question whether or not we’ll get the funding,” Moss said. “The question is, will we have the match to draw down those funds because it’s based on reimbursements? We’ll submit our expenses and they’ll match whatever we’ve spent up to the $1.5 million we asked for.”