Charlotte County public transit expansion

Reporter: Erika Jackson
Charlotte County transit. (Credit: WINK News)
Charlotte County transit. (Credit: WINK News)

If you take the bus in Charlotte County, you have to make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance. But that process may change soon.

It is a big day for young Ruthie Martinez. It is her first ride on a public bus. While for her mom, Charleen Martinez, it is her first time utilizing Charlotte County’s bus system.

“I thought public transportation was a viable option,” Martinez said.

Charlotte County does not have a traditional public transit system. Riders have to call at least 24 hours in advance to schedule a ride to their destination.

“We are a suburban community,” said Richard Kolar, transit manager. “We are spread out.”

Kolar blames the county’s population density or lack of. Kolar wants to boost ridership and is focusing on creating fixed routes. Scheduling hourly pickups in larger, more populated neighborhoods and creating a set drop off destinations, like the Port Charlotte Town Center or libraries.

“People can go inside a building and know the bus will be there within the hour,” Kolar said.

“Parks would be great too,” Martinez said. “Any big places where I can take my kid.”

Also in the works is creating a smartphone app, which has a $700,000 price tag likely covered by federal funding. It would allow passengers to schedule or cancel a ride with the touch of a button.

Kolar hopes that it will increase the number of young riders while boosting efficiency.

“It will alert the individual rider that the bus is 10 minutes out,” Kolar said.

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