VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - The Southern Georgia Regional Commission in Valdosta has designated a 10 passenger van as Valdosta's pilot shuttle program.
It follows a circuitous route to eight strategic locations around the city, including the Mildred Hunter Center, Walmart on Norman Dr., the Goodwill on St. Augustine Rd., the mall, and the Ora Lee West housing complex.
"We've had several call-ins concerning possible additional stops. We definitely want to explore those avenues in the future," said John Dilliard, SGRC's Transit and Mobility Coordinator, as he rode around on the shuttle Tuesday.
The program is paid for by federal motor fuel funds that the Southern Georgia Regional Commission gets every year. Congress has decided not to renew the funds though, so the SGRC had to come up with a way to spend the money before it expires and they lose it.
"We talked with DHS for a couple weeks back and forth, 'how can we implement this program,' and the shuttle service idea came up and that was probably the best way we could go with it," Dilliard explained.
He says this shuttle program will give the SGRC the hard data they need for their transportation study to help them decide whether a full-on bus system would be feasible in the city.
"We can say, 'this is where these people live, this is how many people ride, these are the stops they got on and off at'," Dilliard said.
WALB rode along with Dilliard on the shuttle for an hour Tuesday morning, but during that time no one took advantage of the service. The service has only been running less than a week, but the van's driver says she believes the public is interested.
"[They're] willing to ride, it just hasn't picked up like we want it to pick up," the driver explained.
She prays that it picks up and that that will lead to a public bus system. "We really do need it; we really do. Everybody been wanting to get it. That's why I say I hope our community can come together to get it," the driver said.
The federal funds will expire June 30th of next year and as of Tuesday the SGRC did not have any plans to look for any additional funding to keep the program running beyond June 30th.
To apply for a shuttle pass, visit www.sgrc.us and click on the transportation link.