Pascagoula leaders may give green light to public bus service

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - By Patrice Clark – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Pascagoula could soon have its own bus service rolling around town again. City officials are now working with Coast Transit Authority to acquire funds to bring a transit system to the city. CTA stopped the bus service shortly after Katrina hit.

The idea of public bus service is seen as good news to many in Pascagoula.

"I can get to one place to the other and not have to ask someone to get me a ride and certainly depend on myself," Sheryl Cone said.

"I think it is great for the teenagers also because we like to go places, shopping and anywhere else. It is just great," Leanna Engel said.

Harry Schmidt is Pascagoula's Community Development Director. He said Coast Transit's venture into Pascagoula in October 2003 got off to a bumpy start and never really picked up speed.

"It was a longer route, and it connected to the junior college in Gautier, and it was not successful. And they were winding it up before Hurricane Katrina," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said a lot has changed in the five years since Katrina: new homes, new businesses, new people. And he believes Pascagoula needs bus service again.

"Since the hurricane there has been a lot of population, a lot of moving around in the city. So, we think is worth looking into."

Schmidt said it would cost $78,500 a year to run a bus route to the city's key shopping areas, the hospital, and the downtown district.  Pascagoula and Coast Transit are expected to split that cost.

"We want to make sure it makes sense, financially, for the city and Coast Transit Authority."

Pascagoula seniors are already on board with the idea.

"I think one is needed in Pascagoula," one local senior said.

"It saves gas, save times and avoid being in traffic," another senior said.

CTA's Board of Commissioners held a special meeting last week to talk about reducing or eliminating services. Schmidt said he's confident the budget cuts will not affect the new plan to start a bus service in Pascagoula.  

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