Two public hearings have been scheduled on proposals to change Hall County’s public transit service.
Hall Area Transit will hold two hearings on April 25, giving residents a chance to comment on the possibility of higher fares for the county’s Red Rabbit bus service or changes to its routes.
The hearings are set for 2 p.m. at Gainesville State College’s Student Center and 5:30 p.m. at the Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville.
Government officials are required to give ample notice for public hearings on fare increases.
The meetings are a direct result of budget concerns that have, for the past several months, placed the future of the transit system in jeopardy.
Reducing the system’s funding — and even eliminating it — has been considered as a cost-saving option.
Members of the Hall County Board of Commissioners have expressed interest in increasing fares to support the transit system, noting that fares have not changed in nearly a decade.
Commissioners have unanimously favored consideration of a fare increase, though Craig Lutz has said he still wants to look at other options.
There are not yet specific numbers associated with a possible fare hike.
Any proposal would have to be approved by both Hall commissioners and Gainesville City Council, which jointly fund Hall Area Transit.
Commissioners have also asked that the Community Service Center, the parent organization for HAT, seek funding from other Hall County municipalities whose residents ride the buses.
Red Rabbit, a fixed-route bus service that primarily serves Gainesville and Oakwood, is the most recognizable service provided by HAT.
The transit service also offers Dial-A-Ride, a curbside para-transit service for Hall residents, many of whom are elderly, disabled or clients of the Georgia Department of Human Services.
Red Rabbit has relatively short trips, higher density rides and is more cost effective.
It also doesn’t serve everyone in the county.
Though Dial-A-Ride serves the entire county, it is less cost efficient because its buses travel longer distances with fewer riders.