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THE Bus service may be tweaked

SPRING HILL — In an effort to make the schedule more consistent, connect riders more efficiently with some of their favorite shopping areas and eliminate some safety concerns, the county's transit operator is proposing some tweaks for THE Bus.

To gather public input regarding the proposed changes, the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization will hold a public workshop from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Monday at the Forest Oaks Villas Clubhouse at 8125 Forest Villas Circle in Spring Hill.

Since the transit operator, McDonald Transit Associates, implemented new routes and shorter wait times in early June, there have been some questions and complaints about inconsistency on the newly aligned Purple Route, which runs between Brooksville and Spring Hill without requiring a transfer.

The proposed changes would make the route more efficient and the timing of stops more consistent, according to Dennis Dix, the county's transportation coordinator.

"We wanted to give more time to the Purple Route,'' he said.

In addition, county officials have heard concerns from riders, a number of whom live in Forest Oaks Villas, that they want easy access to the Lakewood Plaza shopping area on U.S. 19.

The changes would include having the Red Route bus —rather than the Purple Route bus — go down Forest Oaks Boulevard and through Forest Oaks Villas and connect with the shopping area.

Other changes would include moving the stop at the West Hernando Branch Library to the intersection of State Road 50 and Blackbird Avenue.

Safety concerns, plus the effort to make the route times more consistent, also led officials to propose eliminating the Purple Route's eastbound stop at Oak Hill Hospital, where a large expansion project is under way, Dix said.

Another change would relocate a stop at Da-Mac Estates, on the north side of Brooksville, to the intersection of Yontz Road and Howell Avenue, getting the buses off residential streets, where some bus drivers had problems turning around.

Dix said it is not unusual to have to go back and make minor adjustments after implementing major changes in routes.

"It's a work in progress, refining the route,'' he said.

After the public workshop, Dix said, the proposed changes will come back to the County Commission for final approval later this month. The changes could take effect by September.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

THE Bus service may be tweaked 08/03/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 3, 2012 8:10pm]
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