Local officials are floating ideas such as a "park-and-ride" network that would allow commuters to share vehicles with each other, and LexTran officials have agreed to study the possibility of regular routes to Winchester.
County Judge-Executive Henry Branham said he organized the meeting to gauge public interest and develop ideas for moving forward with mass transit.
He collected contact information for dozens of residents and plans, with the help of school and city officials, to survey interested parties on when and where they would like to ride.
"We got a lot of good info here tonight," he said.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, more than 45 percent of Clark County residents commute outside the county for jobs, while about 40 percent of Clark County's workers commute into the county from other communities. About 13,000 out of the 15,000 workers in Clark County drive alone.
Branham said people are becoming more interested in carpooling or mass transit because of economic strains.
"I think gas prices are one of the main driving forces of this attitude," he said.
Rocky Burke, general manager of the LexTran bus service in Lexington, has seen interest grow in communities all over the Bluegrass region. On June 3, LexTran will start a park-and-ride system from Man-o-War Boulevard and Nicholasville Road in Lexington to the downtown district. The service also wants to study the feasibly of extending bus routes to Lexington's bedroom communities, he said.
"One of the big issues that we have to deal with is financing - how do you fund this thing," said Burke.
LexTran spends $6 per mile or about $72 an hour to run a bus. Tickets cost $1 for a one-way trip, or commuters can purchase a $30 pass and take unlimited rides for a month. However, the service relies on subsidies from Lexington tax payers to remain viable.
LexTran tried to establish a regular route in Jessamine County a year ago, but the route failed for lack of interest.
Burke said he would like Clark County officials to determine the county's needs and he plans to present officials with some costs analysis in coming weeks.
"It's just one of those things where we have to make sure we cover our costs," Burke said.
Branham plans to meet Mayor Ed Burtner and School Superintendent Ed Musgrove within the next two weeks. At some point, ideas would need to be presented to all three bodies of local government, he said.
"I would be willing to spend a portion of county funds to subsidize this program," Branham said, although he could not specify a specific amount.
In the meantime, some residents seem ready to commit to mass transit.
Winchester resident Ben Palmerton said he spends $45 a week to drive his Jeep Wrangler to the University of Kentucky, where he works in the fire marshall's office.
"I'm a fortunate person that has enough money that I can still do it, but I don't like it," he said. "There's other people that either buy gas or milk, and those are the ones I'm really concerned about."
If residents here could prove that a bus route would work, Palmerton said he could envision numerous routes not just on the weekdays, but nights and weekends when people travel to Lexington for entertainment or shopping.
But he cautioned: "It's going to have to be a commitment from a lot of people to make it work."