"I think we are ready to launch," said County Judge-Executive Henry Branham, who is spearheading the effort.
Since May, officials and residents have floated several ideas to improve transportation options to Lexington, including establishment of a carpool network and regular bus routes to Winchester under Lextran.
Although Lextran expressed interest, officials have since determined that Clark County falls into the state-regulated market territory of another transportation provider, Foothills Community Action Partnership. Under the regulations, Foothills - a non-profit organization that has operated in Clark County for years, has the first option to provide a bus service here before Lextran.
Since discussion began, Branham said the carpool idea has taken a back seat to the proposed commuter program.
In a presentation to drivers Tuesday, David Sowder, director of transportation for Foothills, said the organization will start out by providing morning and afternoon routes to and from stops at Lexmark, the University of Kentucky and downtown Lexington. More stops can be added in the future as the system grows, he said.
Wal-Mart on Bypass Road has offered to provide up to 60 parking spaces, where commuters can load the buses. A monthly pass will cost $40, but passengers may pay day to day as well.
Sowder said he and Branham plan to gather applications for riders over the next few weeks using an e-mail list and by passing out flyers at the Pioneer Festival. Afterward, he will determine the exact details of the routes and pick-up times.
"If we start out with these three main routes I think that is going to be a good starting point and we will go from there," he said.
Every rider must submit an application to have a guaranteed seat on the bus. Sowder said riders can show up without scheduling beforehand, but they are not guaranteed a seat.
Sowder explained that the bus routes will serve as a pilot program for Foothills. The service will need at least enough people to fill a 12-person bus or a seven-person mini-van to remain operational, Sowder said. But he expects about 40 people on the first day.
"If it works they way everyone hopes it will, I think it will keep growing and growing," he said.
Branham said he also anticipates about 40 passengers the first day. He said commuters are interested in the program due to high gas prices and vehicle wear and heightened environmental awareness.
"It's just the right thing to do," he said.
For more information about the program or for passenger applications, call the Clark County judge-executive's office at 745-0200.
Contact Mike Wynn at email@example.com.