The City of Statesboro is currently in the process of developing mass transit opportunities for Bulloch County, which could have many implications for Georgia Southern University students.
Plans for public transportation in Statesboro have been floating around since 2009, with the creation of the Bulloch County Transit Development Plan. Thanks to the passing of the Bulloch County Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum in April 2018, public transportation is now much more likely to happen sometime in the near future.
The city created the first survey regarding the creation of public transit around November of last year as a part of their Transit Feasibility Study. The first open house occurred towards the end of November, which gave the community the chance to voice initial concerns about the proposed transit routes.
Now, three months later, the city is continuing to move forward with their transit plans with a second survey and community open house. The drop in style open house is Thursday, March 7 at the Honey Bowen Building on 1 Max Lockwood Dr., from 5 to 7 p.m.
"We're trying to get as much feedback as we can," Kiara Ahmed, civil engineer for the City of Statesboro said. "We definitely want to have everything done study wise by April so we can go ahead and get started if everything checks out."
In addition to local feedback, the city has also done studies looking at other cities around the same size as Statesboro and the way they handle public transportation and university transportation.
The city looked at Carrolton, Georgia, which is home to the University of West Georgia and West Georgia Technical College, as well as Clemson, South Carolina, which is home to Clemson University. Upon looking at the Technical Memorandum document provided by Ahmed, Richmond, Kentucky was the final city, which is home to Eastern Kentucky.
"We just wanted to compare a city that was as close to Statesboro as possible," Ahmed said. "That helps us get a feel for what transit we can use, as they may also might have something we can look at towards funding since they are about the same size."
Details about the survey
The city received 506 responses on the first survey sent out and 454 people completed the survey in its entirety. Individuals who took the first survey were asked to identify what part of Statesboro they resided in, whether or not they attended college in Statesboro, what they would use public transit for and more.
Eighteen percent of survey takers identified as college students who went to East Georgia State College, Ogeechee Technical College or GS, according to the Technical Memorandum document. Fourteen percent of survey takers said that they were either full-time or part-time students.
There are three different concepts for the transit networks that were created based on demand and input from the November survey.
Concepts A and B have four routes each. The destinations and routes vary, but both Concept A and Concept B have stops in downtown Statesboro, two stops near GS’ campus, as well as stops at both Walmarts in town and the Statesboro Mall.
Concept C lacks routes and is just one continuous loop instead. Though the routes aren't finalized yet, it's likely that either Concept A or B will be chosen as the final model, with a few modifications based on feedback from visitors of the open house and survey participants.
"We're thinking that the best option will be to do a few routes as opposed to just one big loop, based on time and how much that would actually take to fund that," Ahmed said.
Transportation and the students
On Feb. 27, Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar discussed public transit opportunities during a town hall meeting on the Statesboro campus.
"What I'm hoping is that, with the public transportation system, students will have the opportunity to get into our downtown areas and take advantage of some of the things [downtown]," McCollar said.
This sentiment is echoed by Ahmed, who sees the potential transportation system as another way students can get downtown, especially if they don't have the means of transportation themselves.
"The transit opportunities we do want to provide, if there are any stops near campus, they would at least try and get the students from campus to other places in the city," Ahmed said. "It really wouldn't be geared towards going to other places on campus since there is a transit system already. We wouldn't want to interfere with that."
The city is looking to complete the study and finalize the results in April, Jason Boyles, interim assistant city manager for the City of Statesboro said. It will still take a while for transit to truly begin since the study is still in its infancy stage.
"If all the logistics and challenges including the funding is worked out, it would take some time to be able to implement a plan to implement any routes that we come up with," Boyles said.
To fill out the survey on public transportation in Statesboro, click here. The survey will be open until March 24.
Tandra Smith, Engagement, Analytics and Copy Editing Managing Editor, email@example.com.