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January 8, 2014

Possible changes loom for county rural transit program

MILLEDGEVILLE — For 19 years, the Section 5311 Rural Transportation program, managed through the county fire department, has operated with an objective to provide cost effective mobility to passengers throughout the community.

The Baldwin County Commissioners are interested in making the transportation system better and more efficient by bringing in a third party administrator.

Commissioners heard from the Middle Georgia Regional Commission (MGRC) Transportation and Mobility Manager Bob Rychel during Tuesday’s county work session.

“We want to give you an opportunity to consider an option that could potentially result in efficiencies of transportation operations, better service to the citizens of Baldwin County and potential cost savings to the county as well,” Rychel said.

The MGRC is one of three Georgia Department of Transportation pilot programs looking for better transportation coordination.

“I don’t know if you are aware of it, but you have two transit systems operating in your county,” he said. “There is the rural transportation that the county operates, but there is also Department of Human Services (DHS) system.”

Rychel said GDOT asked the regional commission to consolidate those two programs. Of the 112 Georgia counties that run rural transport, 77 percent coordinate with DHS.

“Basically it consists of merging those two systems resulting in efficiencies of operation because you don’t have two different vehicles under two different systems possibly going to the same location,” Rychel said. “Because you have higher utilization, you also have a lower cost per trip rate, which could result in county savings.”

The Baldwin Transit consists of two vans based at the Allen Memorial Drive fire station. 

One public transit services van outfitted for ambulatory persons features a wheelchair lift and has room for just one onboard, as well as eight passengers. The other vehicle is a regular 15-passenger van.

Drivers carry out transport services from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Rides costing $2 per passenger per trip are reservation only.

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