The Douglas County Board of Commissioners (BOC) voted Tuesday, August 7, to accept the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) federal grant which is the next step in implementing a fixed route shuttle bus system. The decision passed by a vote of 3-2.
“I believe this vote will not create a great divide in Douglas County because we are one Douglas,” Douglas County Commission Chairman Dr. Romona Jackson Jones said. “I am proud of this Board of Commissioners for listening to the voices of the citizens by moving the H. E. Holmes route back into Douglas County.”
In reaction to the effort, time and energy placed on expanding transportation services in Douglas County, Chairman Jones reiterated her support of the Transportation Committee. “I applaud Transportation Committee Chairman Kelly Robinson and Transportation Committee Vice Chairman Mike Mulcare and the entire Transportation Committee for their intensive sensitivity and regard for balance and equity on every side of this contentious topic of a 15 seat passenger van/shuttle system in Douglas County,” Chairman Jones said.
The Douglas County Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) federal grant application submitted by the Board of Commissioners for $4.8 million with a $1.2 million local match over a three year period was one of more than 100 projects approved by the Atlanta Regional Commission Board at its June 27, 2018 meeting.
BOC Vice Chair District 2 Commissioner Kelly Robinson released the following statement after the historic vote.
“What a major victory for Douglas County citizens! This was not just a policy shift but a progressive step in the right direction where the needs of a broader population base are finally being fulfilled.”
Robinson continued, “I am personally pleased that I was in a position to advocate and work hard over the past three years to make this happen.”
District 4 Commissioner Ann Jones Guider who recently held an open forum on the fixed route bus system said, “This issue has divided our county. If we show the people of this county we can work together, we can accomplish much more, and we will bring this county back together.”
District 1 Commissioner Henry Mitchell who voted to accept the grant which will fund four fixed shuttle bus routes in Douglas County said, “The acceptance of the CMAQ grant will be the first step in the right direction for the citizens of Douglas County.” Mitchell continued, “The introduction of this pilot mobility program to the citizens will have a significant impact not only on the economic development sector but the improvement of air quality and the enhancement of opportunities for those who need transportation.”
District 3 Commissioner Mike Mulcare commented that the issue of public transit regardless of the vote today is not going to go away. “We just simply cannot pave enough roads and put so many additional cars on the road,” Mulcare said. “We have to have a public transit solution.”
A modification of the CMAQ grant was made during the BOC Commission meeting connecting one of the fixed routes to Cobb County, and Commissioner Mulcare said this was a positive change.
Now that the vote has passed, Commissioner Robinson addressed the next steps. “The real work begins with the administration filing the formal application to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for the actual funds, and at the same time, the Board of Commissioners must award contracts to a third party provider to operate the bus service and a consultant to perform formal planning and communication,” Robinson said.
Completing, filing and formal approval of the FTA application could take several months. Douglas County hopes to have the bus service operational during the first quarter of 2019.
More information on the fixed route shuttle service and the four routes can be found on the Connect Douglas page of the Douglas County government website at www.celebratedouglascounty.com.