Meridian Star

December 3, 2013

Forum to address public transit needs

The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Terri Ferguson Smith

    Efforts are under way to bring back public transportation to Meridian.

    Mayor Percy Bland, along with officials of the Mississippi Department of Transportation, is planning a series of meetings next week to allow the public to get more information about  the process.

    MDOT's Public Transit Division will host a series of forums — "Community Transit on the Move" — at Union Station on Dec. 10 at Union Station. The sessions will be held from 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., 12:15 p.m.-1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m. on December 10th in downtown Meridian.

    "We are committed to bringing transportion back for an alternative for our citizens," Bland said. "Public transportation is a critical issue to me. We're not only focused on re-establishing public transit in the city, we want to see it grow in its service and reach in communities throughout Meridian. These public forums will help promote that type of coordination with key players in the community."

    Meridian officials stopped the Meridian Transit System in February of 2012, but Bland said if it is restored, it will be handled differently. The city is in talks with a company which could offer a regional approach that would include several area cities, according to Richie McAlister, administrative assistant to Bland.

    "It's a good deal because we can design it around our needs," McAlister said.

    For instance, the system would have flexible, rather than fixed routes, he said and the buses would be smaller.

    MDOT officials said the forums are to foster communication between Mississippi residents, community leaders, business owners and other stakeholders regarding community and public transportation services. The forums will also focus on ways to boost awareness of the benefits of using community transportation.

    Local elected officials, business owners, human service organizations, students and members of the general public are encouraged to attend.

    Union Station is located at 1901 Front St. in Meridian.

    For more information about the forum, contact MDOT's Public Transit Division at 601-359-7800.