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Gwinnett Transit looks at Norcross requests

LAWRENCEVILLE - A 30-foot bus may be too big for the streets of downtown Norcross, but anything less is too small for the number of passengers.

That was the conclusion after a Norcross City Council member recently asked Gwinnett Transit about downsizing the vehicles it uses on a route through the city center.

"The streets are kind of narrow with tight turns in Norcross," said Councilman Charlie Riehm, who made the inquiry.

Riehm wanted to know if county transit could use vans on Route 30, which travels Peachtree and Lawrenceville streets. Transit officials said the number of riders makes that impossible.

"We're already running the smallest local buses through there without running the smaller paratransit buses, which are too small," said Art Sheldon, who chairs the Gwinnett Transit Advisory Board.

Riehm said he is satisfied with the answer.

"They did say that route has one of highest riderships," said Riehm, who was elected in November and joined the Council three weeks ago.

However, Gwinnett Transit, which uses both 30-foot and 40-foot buses on the Norcross line, is studying whether it can shuffle its fleet so that only 30-foot buses are used in the city.

"We're looking to see whether we can do that," said Gwinnett Transit Director Tim Collins.

The transit system is also considering whether it can honor a request by the Norcross Police Department.

The department said there is a problem with students from a county alternative school congregating and loitering at businesses as they make their way to a transit stop on Buford Highway a few blocks away.

Sheldon said the department asked if a transit bus could stop closer to GIVE Center West at Beaver Ruin Road and Mitchell Street, and if a bus could stop sooner after school gets out.

"We're working with the Norcross Police Department and the city to come to some sort of resolution," Collins said.

Buses are used on all of Gwinnett Transit's routes, except for one that goes between Discover Mills mall in Lawrenceville and downtown Buford and the Mall of Georgia.

The system switched to vans on that route last year because of poor ridership and to save money.

The system uses mostly 40-foot coaches for its Express Service, which ferries rush-hour commuters between Gwinnett County and downtown Atlanta. The 30-foot buses have been pressed into service to handle increased ridership on the commuter service.