Rolling 'Round Town

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The tour began at Union Station and followed one of the regular routes that leads to Bonita Lakes Mall with a stop at Luby's Cafeteria for lunch.

The bus is both clean and comfortable. Evelyn Bumpers, executive director of the Meridian Transit Authority said the service is needed by the community.

"In that we have so many individuals who do not have means of transportation, cannot afford means of transportation but there again still they have to work," said Bumpers. "It is more than just a bus service. It offers special pickup and delivery to handicapped people who cannot utilize the regular service."

"Once you're certified for this particular service based on your need, some are certified for a lifetime which means that no matter where you go if you want to go in the city there are no trip restrictions," Bumpers said.

Riders who qualify are picked up curbside at their home and returned. Each trip costs two dollars. In addition, weekend service to the Navy base has been restored and Bumpers says it is doing well.

"Response has been great. The naval base itself has been very receptive. They're very glad to have us there because as far as with students coming in it's a very, very economical way for them to travel and be able to navigate the city," said Bumpers.

The cost is $2.50 each way. Regular service charges $1.00 for adults, 75 cents for seniors and 40 cents for children. Ridership averages 121 every day, or about 29,000 passengers per year.

The transit authority is subsidized about $130,000 per year by the city with additional dollars supplied by the federal government. Bumpers says public transit is purely a service.

"There's not a public transit entity anywhere in the state of Mississippi that can say that they will ever be self sustaining," Bumpers said.