Buford bus nears final stop
Cuts to transit services to be addressed at meeting

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett's transit service to Buford could be cut and buses may not roll on Saturdays, according to proposed changes to Gwinnett County Transit.

The cost-cutting measures will be explained to the public in a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.

The changes include tweaks to nearly all the local service routes, but would completely eliminate Route 50, which connects passengers to all three of Gwinnett's malls - Gwinnett Place Mall, Discover Mills and the Mall of Georgia.

According to Transit Director Phil Boyd, the route struggled since its creation in 2001 and yielded only about 150 passengers a day.

In comparison, the least used of the four other local routes averages 700 boardings a day, with the most popular one netting 2,200 boardings a day.

The local service, which currently does not operate on Sundays, would become a weekday operation with the elimination of Saturday service.

Changes are also planned for the popular express system, but Boyd said the delivery of 35 new 57-seat buses will allow for the service to be more efficient than the current 37-seaters.

One morning and two afternoon trips each day would be eliminated from both the Indian Trail-Lilburn Road and Interstate 985 at Ga. Highway 20 park-and-ride lots, and four morning and four afternoon trips would be eliminated at the busier Discover Mills lot, according to the proposal.

"Even with eliminating this number of trips with the express system, we still have room to grow," Boyd said, adding that he believed that people would not be forced to stand on buses.

The changes represent a 6 percent cut to express service and a 21 percent cut to local service. Boyd said it would result in a $360,000 savings from the government's $2.3 million contribution to transit.

Further cuts would be difficult, he said, because they would require a renegotiation of the contract with the transit provider, which could result in an increase to unit prices. The situation is also tricky, he said, because cutting the service by a certain amount would force the county to pay back state and federal interests in purchasing buses.

If people can't make Thursday's event, they are welcome to send comments via mail or fax or through the system's Web site at www.gctransit.com. The deadline for comments is Aug. 21.

SideBar: If you go

· What: Gwinnett County Transit proposed route changes

· When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

· Where: Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville