BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County wants to know its bus riders better, and on Tuesday, the Metropolitan Planning Organization approved a $20,000 survey to gather that information.
The move comes just as county officials are discussing budget cuts, and THE Bus could be a target. County Administrator David Hamilton supported the rider survey and asked whether it could be expanded to potential customers in the community.
Dennis Dix, the county's transportation coordinator, explained that the wider survey will be done later as the county prepares its next long-term transportation plan.
The survey will ask riders why they use the fixed-route transit system, how often they ride and other details about their lifestyle. It also will tell the county whether THE Bus accomplished its goal of taking pressure off the expensive door-to-door van service that the county also provides, Dix said.
Interviewers will talk to bus patrons in April and compile a report to be presented in May. The work will be conducted by the MPO's planning consultant Tindale-Oliver and Associates Inc. Money for the survey comes from federal transportation funds.
MPO member and County Commissioner Chris Kingsley said the survey will show the county how to market THE Bus. While he supported the idea for the survey, he voted against it because he said he believed that the county staff could conduct the survey for a much lower cost than the consultant.
MPO member and County Commissioner Jeff Stabins said he had "sticker shock" at the cost, but after learning more about the survey details, he said he would support it. "We really need the information now,'' he said.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.