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Public transportation in Screven's future

Screven County soon will have public bus transportation.

Not the kind where you wait at a stop for the next scheduled bus to come by. More like the kind where you call and make an appointment and the bus comes to your house to get you.

It’ll be a “public, rural, demand-response” system and it will begin service before the end of the summer. The service will be run by the Coastal Regional Commission, which up until a July 1 name change was known as the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center.

The $2 million to run the program each year comes mostly from federal and state funds, with about $300,000 chipped in by local governments. Screven County’s share the first year should come to about $16,500, said Barbara Hurst, transportation director for the commission.

Anyone can ride the buses – not just the elderly, handicapped or indigent. “There’s no reason to feel bad using the service, that you’re going to displace elderly or handicapped” or poor people, Hurst said.

The fares will be $3 each way for a trip within the county and an additional $3 each time the bus crosses another county line.

For example, someone who lives in Sylvania and wants to go shopping in Statesboro would pay $3 for the part of the ride that’s in Screven County, then another $3 for crossing into Bulloch County. That would make the cost $6 to ride from Sylvania to Statesboro. The trip home would cost an additional $6 for a total, round-trip cost of $12.

The buses will go anywhere in a 10-county area. In addition to Screven County, the counties included are: Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long and McIntosh.

Bulloch County opted not to take part in the program, so riders from the other nine counties can go to and from destinations in Bulloch County but the buses will not pick up riders originating in Bulloch County, Hurst said.

Some of the vehicles will be conversion vans and some will be shuttle buses. Each will carry about 15 passengers and be capable of carrying handicapped passengers. The program has about 30 vehicles and will order up to 60 more as the need arises.

As the newer vehicles are added, with more sophisticated electronics, fares may be changed from set fees to fares based on distance traveled.

Before the program begins, the commission will advertise an 800 number that customers will be able to call to set up rides.

The times rides will be offered will be determined by demand, but a likely schedule will be from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Hurst said. It will not be available for people looking to commute to and from work, she said.

Commuters will be offered the option of a regional van pool program. People in Sylvania who commute say, to the Port of Savannah each day, could band together in groups of 15 in a van pool and pay from $50 to $150 a month and also get a monthly tax credit, Hurst said.