Meridian Star

Local News

January 5, 2013

Meridian bus system depends on funding

MERIDIAN —     The Meridian Transit Systems which managed the Meridian city bus service was shut down in March due to the lack of funding.

    During some unofficial talks, there have been options rolled around as to how to bring the service back. Still, there have been some concerns as to whether there is a need for the service that some city officials noted only drew one or two riders per route.

    Ward 1 Meridian City Councilman George Thomas said there has not been any official communication between council members and the office of Choctaw Chief Phyliss J. Anderson to discuss an unofficial proposal to allow the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to take over bus routes in the city.

    "I expect us to approach Chief Anderson with some kind of proposal in the near future to see if there is a viable option we can agree on," Thomas said. "I'm curious as to whether they would be interested."

    Interest among the other council members, the Meridian city administration and members of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors would have to gauged as well, Thomas said.

    "I would think the people in the county would need some sort of transportation and we would need the support of the supervisors," Thomas said.

    Thomas also pointed out another sector that could really take advantage of the service. The lack of a city bus service has negatively impacted students at Naval Air Station Meridian.

    In a statement released in March concerning the cease of service, NAS Meridian Public Affairs Specialist Penny Randall said students at Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC) Meridian and Marine Aviation Training Support Squadron One allowed the students the ability to acquire cost effective transportation to the city of Meridian.

    "NTTC Meridian and MATSS-1 accommodates a transient population of 18-24 year old entry level sailors and Marines annually who rely upon alternative means of transportation," Randall wrote in the statement. "The majority of these students arrive at NTTC Meridian from boot camp without vehicles."

    CDR Brett St. George, CO, NTTC said Friday afternoon, as a whole, the students have been able to pool their resources and get out into town.

    "Their out of pocket expenses have gone up but have not been prohibitive in their getting to town," said St. George.  "What they can spend once there, however, would be impacted."

    MDOT owned all of the MTS buses and have since taken possession of all of them except for one that is still in the city yard. The city owns the MTS trolley which according to Meridian CFO Tim Miller is rented out for special occasions.

    "The trolley was never meant to be a part of the public transportation system," Miller said. "It is actually running in the black right now."

    Thomas did not give an exact time frame as to if and when conversation concerning another public transportation system would occur.

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