As of 8 Monday morning public transportation was back up and running in Meridian. It was three years ago, when the Meridian Transit System shut down due to a lack of funds. Once that happened the Meridian Transportation Commission took initial steps for the city to partner with the Choctaw Tribe to restore the service.
"There were models that we could go by," says Meridian Transportation Commission member, Bo Hawkins. "We knew that if we could put the right effort, and bring the right people to the table we could bring public transportation back to the city of Meridian."
As part of the partnership, the city of Meridian will pay $75,000 a year for the service. For now, the system is offering rides on a 29 passenger bus that is handicap accessible.
"We will be examining for the next two to three years quarterly on the progress, and reinventing if necessary the services that we are providing," says Charles Carr, who is the Director for Intermodal Planning with the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
"After maybe six months we're going to do an assessment, and if the numbers are there we are going to expand," says Dalton Henry, who is the Director for Choctaw Regional Transportation.
"My vision is that eventually we're just not three days," says Mayor Percy Bland, "but we grow this into an everyday transportation system. Also, that there's partnerships with a lot of our larger employers here that have the needs such as: NAS Meridian and MCC so that their needs are also met by this system."
"We definitely would like to have the private sector involved,"says Carr, "not only to get contracts so that their employees can use the service, but to help to provide a funding base that the city can rely on in addition to public tax dollars."
Listed below is scheduling, cost and location information about the new public transportation service for the City of Meridian:
1. Rides are provided on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
2. Operation hours are from 8 AM until 4 PM on those days.
3. The cost is $6 for a round trip, and $3 to travel one way.
4. Riders need to call at least 24 hours in advance to arrange for
5. That number to call is (601) 483-1370.
6. The new transit systems' office is located in downtown Meridian
at Union Station.