The county is spending that money to add a 20th bus route to its Cobb Community Transit system. It will also modify two existing routes and add a shuttle for residents who live in three “zones,” allowing them to reserve shuttle service, taxi-style.
Cupid said the enhanced service restores some of the routes cut during the economic downturn.
“And in the meantime, we have significant populations out in the district that rely on transit to get them to work, to get them to the doctor’s offices, to get them to the grocery store, and many of those persons have been stranded and having to walk several miles with children, sometimes in inclement weather, to get to the bus,” Cupid said. “Their lifestyle has been significantly exacerbated by the loss of some of those routes.”
The $4 million cost breaks down into $2.2 million for operating expenses and $1.8 million for capital expenses, including the purchase of new buses.
The county’s new bus route, Route 25, will span from Cumberland to the H.E. Holmes MARTA station in Fulton County, zigging and zagging a distance of 25 miles. The cost to operate the new route is $1.1 million, said Faye DiMassimo, the county’s transportation director.
The goal is to provide east-west connectivity to areas now without service. The route, which will serve WellStar Cobb Hospital, will come online next year after the buses are ordered, said Gail Franklin, CCT’s division manager.
The county is also rolling out a shuttle service in three 5- to 7-square-mile areas. Residents who live in these designated “flex zones” may reserve the shuttle service by calling two hours in advance.
The smaller buses are handicapped accessible and will cost $2.50 to ride. They will be
available this fall.
“You call two hours in advance, and it cycles not a single trip, so you won’t be on the bus alone probably,” Franklin said. “If we have four requests, it will cycle those reservations within a 60-minute headway. It will be four people they’re dropping off.”
One zone is bound by Macland Road to the north, Barrett Parkway to the west and the East-West Connector to the south.
A second is bound by Macedonia Road to the north, CH James Parkway and the Powder Springs Park & Ride to the west and Powder Springs Road to the south.
The third is bound by Anderson Mill Road to the north, CH James Parkway to the west and the Cobb-Douglas county line to the south.
Existing routes revised
The county is modifying two existing routes, Routes 20 and 30, which will be in place by July 1.
Route 20 will extend south on South Cobb Drive to service Cumberland Parkway and the Home Depot Support Center to Cumberland.
During morning and evening peak times, trips will alternate between the current Spring and Concord roads route and the new route alignment to the Home Depot Support Center.
Route 30 is being improved for time performance.
“Now when you go to the stop, the bus will arrive at the time it’s scheduled, whereas before it was early, it was late, it was just kind of all over the map,” Franklin said. “We wanted people to count on the scheduled time to catch the bus.”
The total number of trips taken by CCT riders has increased from 4.3 million in fiscal 2011 to 4.4 million in 2012 and 4.6 million in 2013, county spokesman Robert Quigley said.
CCT’s total operating budget for fiscal 2013 was $18 million, of which $8.7 million was subsidized by the county.
Providing transit enhances the quality of life in Cobb, Cupid said.
“At the end of the day, when people can’t get access to work, people can’t get access to health care, people can’t get access to food, that creates challenging circumstances, which could alternately result in having to deal with public safety issues, very critical health issues. It just creates a desperate climate in certain parts of the district that we’ll ultimately have to pay for whether it be through services or public safety,” she said.
By the numbers
* 4.3 million trips in fiscal 2011
* 4.4 million trips in fiscal 2012
* 4.6 million trips in fiscal 2013
CCT operating budget
* $18M of which $8.7M was subsidized by the county