Rapid bus transit system recommended for Waco

Rapid bus transit system recommended for Waco
Posted at 9:46 PM, Nov 16, 2017
and last updated 2018-06-19 15:01:08-04

A rapid bus transit system might be coming to Waco within 10 years.

The City of Waco and the consulting firm AECOM hosted an open house at the Dewey Center Thursday to present their plans after compiling suggestions from a survey over the summer.

Right now, they said it takes about two hours to get from one end of Waco to the other on a bus. Putting in a main route only for buses with designated stops and connecting routes would allow you to travel faster and easier.

AECOM rapid transit corridor project manager Jimi Mitchell said the consulting firm is recommending the route that goes from Highway 84 up Franklin Avenue to Business 77 and over to the Loop 340/Highway 84 interchange.

"It scored just as well in the ridership, it's a little cheaper obviously because you don't have to build as many stations and have as many vehicles to run out there," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the other two options both start on Highway 84, but go farther, up to Texas State Technical College. One takes Waco Drive and the other takes Franklin Avenue.

"Overall, unless we hear that there is a significant amount of demand from the community up there in Bellmead, or even the TSTC campus, about having that direct connection it's something that we feel is able to be served by the connecting routes," Mitchell said. "That's why we're presenting this to the public to see if this is truly what the public feels is appropriate for the community."

You can have your say again by filling out another survey to let them know whether you agree with that recommendation or not.

Mitchell said AECOM and Waco will consider public input and make adjustments before taking the plan to the Waco City Council, Waco Transit Advisory Committee and the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Once that's done, Metropolitan Planning organization director Chris Evilia said he hopes to get funding through a federal program because the project could cost up to $25 million to build and $4 million a year to operate.

"The federal government is going to have to come up with a big chunk of the cost and that's always a very competitive process," Evilia said. "It's officially called the Small Starts Program and we'll be competing with communities all across the country for that."
Mitchell said it could take until the spring of 2019 to find out if they will get that funding. Evilia said that's one of the reasons it could take between four to six years to complete the project.

If you missed tonight's meeting, there will be another one on Nov. 30 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Bellmead Civic Center.

Mitchell said you can fill out the survey and look at the project until the end of the year.

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