CTA receiving millions from stimulus package, unveils plans for money

CTA's hybrid electric bus
CTA's hybrid electric bus

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS   (WLOX) -  The beachcomber route is making a comeback in May along Highway 90 in Biloxi and Gulfport. The first green trolley arrived last Friday.  The CTA wants to use part of the $3.3 million it's getting from the federal stimulus package to expand its fleet.

"We'd like to purchase one more trolley in addition to the nine that we already have on order, and that would be an expansion of service hopefully into the Long Beach and Pass Christian area," said CTA Director Kevin Coggin.

Another purchase is the latest generation of a hybrid electric bus. The high-tech vehicle will be used to create an express service between the Transit Centers in Biloxi and Gulfport, with the only stop at Edgewater Mall.  The service should help cut the commute time.

"That's one reason why we don't get as many customers as we possibly could because of the length of time that it takes to ride a regular fixed route," said Coggin.  "An express route gets you across city to city really quickly and makes it more convenient."

The stimulus money will also be used to expand services for people with disabilities in Harrison and Jackson Counties, and pay for the installation of electronic boxes for bus fares. The most immediate improvement will take place at the bus stops, where as many as 80 shelters will be going up.

"I was really happy because we never had this opportunity before, to get this substantial amount of money given to us for infrastructure without us having to come up with local match dollars," said Coggin.

Coggin says the federal dollars should arrive before October first. The goal is to improve public transportation and create and support jobs.

"This expansion of services is going to open up new job opportunities for people that have some transportation challenges, that otherwise may not be able to work," said Coggin. "This is a wonderful opportunity for us and a good investment of public dollars into public services."

The stimulus dollars will also help the CTA pay for parts and maintenance of its vehicles, facility renovations, as well as marketing and planning.

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