Faye DiMassimo, head of Cobb’s transportation department, spoke about the proposed transit line, called Route 10X, at the Board of Commissioners meeting this week, where the board voted 4-0, with Commissioner Bob Ott absent, to allow the department to begin requesting proposals from consulting firms that could help guide the project.
She said the route would link the Kennesaw State campus, Life University and the Southern Polytechnic State University campus with Georgia State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Savannah School of Art and Design and other destinations in downtown Atlanta.
Eric Meyer, planning manager for Cobb DOT, said he hoped the department would have a consulting firm under contract by October.
The firm would determine the amount of money Cobb would need to operate the line, Meyer explained, noting he could not yet estimate how much such a project would cost.
DiMassimo said the county could shell out $100,000 or more to fund the consultant’s contract.
Officials said Route 10X would relieve CCT system’s highest-traveled route, Route 10, which runs along Cobb Parkway.
The new line would keep travel times shorter by limiting the number of stops it includes along its route to only those deemed most essential to riders.
Kyethea Clark, planning and development specialist at Marietta’s development services department, said commuters from Atlanta or Gwinnett County to Kennesaw State can spend more than two hours on the road due to numerous bus stops along Cobb Parkway.
The proposed bus line remains in the early stages of planning, Meyer said. He noted hiring the consulting firm would go a long way toward hammering out the details of Route 10X.
“We’re going to flesh that out, try to get a better understanding of what sort of demand there is,” he explained.
Part of the firm’s job will be to conduct a study to gauge public interest at various potential bus stops in a study that Meyer estimates will take no more than nine months to complete.
“The study will determine what that route is,” he said.
Clark said the project would be county-led and paid for through grant funds and local matches, including from the universities themselves.
She drew a distinction between Route 10X and the county’s plan for a bus rapid transit system, a proposed line to link Kennesaw State with Midtown Atlanta.
Chairman Tim Lee implored his fellow commissioners and city mayors last week to consider supporting the addition of a $100 million line item in an upcoming SPLOST list to make sure BRT gets federal funding.
Clark said Route 10X would be designed and marketed toward college students in the area, while BRT would have the “larger goal” of providing a transit system between the county and Atlanta.
She said the university route would offer all the “bells and whistles” students might like to see on their public buses, such as Wi-Fi, GPS and a mobile application that allows riders to access a transit schedule in real time.
She also noted Route 10X buses could be hitting the streets before those of BRT.
“Because we’re looking at doing a study, that might be able to come on line sooner than the BRT,” Clark explained.
“If the demand is shown when the study is completed, if it is determined that there is demand for this particular route, then it could be a little ahead of the BRT system.”
Clark said the idea for Route 10X emerged from a recent study completed by the city of Marietta through a partnership with Life University and Southern Polytechnic State University.
According to Clark, the study aimed to answer the question “How could the university gain visibility along Cobb Parkway?”