Well, I am sure you have heard by now that a 4-route bus system did pass this week by a vote of 3-2.  Those Commissioners who voted in favor of accepting a $4 million CMAQ grant (over the next 3 years) as “seed money” for the 4-route system were Commissioner Chair Jackson-Jones, Vice Chair Kelly Robinson, and District 1 Commissioner Henry Mitchell.   Commissioner Mulcare and I cast the dissenting votes.

Although this may have been a surprise to many, I had held on to the hope that since Commissioner Mitchell had been so appalled and publically critical of the “back-room” deals taken by some to change the original 2-route system into the now 4-route system, that he just might not go along with it.  However, when the latest version of the routes was revealed to the rest of us on the BOC just 2 weeks ago, my hope began to fade as it was apparent that the newest route was almost entirely in the Lithia Springs’ area of his district!

Back in 2015 when all this began, our main objective and about 95% of our public dialogue was about providing transportation for the seniors and the disabled.  The majority of those who came and spoke before the BOC from all areas of the county stressed the need for this service, even up to the day of our vote. That had been my objective all along, just as it had been for a couple of others on the Board.  However, Commissioner Robinson is quoted in the August 9th Sentinel as saying  “Traditionally, seniors and disabled needs were only being met in Douglas County but NOW a more inclusive set of citizens can partake….such as Millennials, part-time workers, one or no car owners”…    Somewhere he changed his objective and persuaded others to go along with him.

Before the vote, I proposed rather than the BOC accepting the grant for a system estimated to cost $2 million a year to operate from this day forward, we initiate a dial-a-ride system, similar to what Carroll County recently adopted.  With this program, a person would reserve a ride within 24 hours to and from any location within Douglas County for a reasonable fee and would allow pick up at their home.  This would have provided service at a much cheaper price tag to any Douglas County citizen who did not have transportation. The now adopted program does not serve anyone in the western or the southern parts of the county although we will all help pay for it.

I am writing this to keep you informed and ask that you continue to monitor this issue.  Yes, I am disappointed and somewhat concerned about adding $2 million to subsequent budgets.  However, it is done.  This is a huge project to bite off at one time and the citizens must demand that those steering this project must be forth-coming and transparent with them.