Residents' comments wanted on bus system

June 25, 1996|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Howard County transportation officials will hold a public hearing tonight to discuss proposed routes and other services for the county's new bus system, which starts running next Monday.

Officials are proposing expanded bus routes to such places as Jessup, Elkridge, the Gateway Industrial Park and Snowden Square. Before finalizing the routes -- which will not go into effect until this fall -- they're seeking residents' comments.

A second informational meeting will be tomorrow for seniors who can't make tonight's hearing before the county's Public Transportation Board.

"Primarily what we're looking for is their suggestions as to where they would like to see the bus system go and where they would not like to see the bus system go," said Carl Balser, chief of transportation planning for the county Department of Planning and Zoning. "At this point there have been no decisions made as to where the routes will go."

The new system, called the Howard Area Transit Service (HATS), will replace ColumBUS service, which the Columbia Association has decided to discontinue.

CA officials decided to turn the ColumBUS operations over to the county because they believe the county and a private transportation contractor can better handle the expansion of bus services.

The county is looking at several issues in the development of the HATS system -- expanding the fixed-route bus service, further development of services for elderly, low-income and disabled riders and public transportation to western portions of the county.

The county has hired the Corridor Transportation Corp. -- a Laurel company that operates the county's Connect-A-Ride bus service serving southeast Howard and Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties -- to manage the new system for the first year.

Ray Ambrose, CTC's project administrator, said the company has drawn up some possible routes for the fixed-route bus service that will be presented at tonight's meeting, but they are in draft form and can be altered with community suggestions.

"What we have is some conceptualized ideas," Ambrose said. "It's not final."

Tonight's meeting will be at 7 p.m. before the Public Transportation Board at the George Howard Building in Ellicott City.

Tomorrow's meeting for seniors will be at 9: 30 a.m. at the Florence Bain Center in the Harper's Choice village of Columbia.

Pub Date: 6/25/96

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