Citizens Ask County Commissioners for Expansion of Bus Routes
To some people she's known as the taxi driver.
"I transport some residents in my personal car. So they can get to those appointments, jobs and grocery stores or pharmacy," said Brenda Haffey.
Haffey of Marion County gives rides to about five people a week.
One of those people is Rachel Ann Vanderhoof.
"I have a 7-year-old daughter who can not walk a long period of time to get to a store," said Vanderhoof.
Vanderhoof isn't alone. More than 700 people signed a petition to get a bus route closer to their neighborhood. No one living west of I-75 has access to public transportation.
Some citizens are now asking county commissioners to expand bus routes.
"You have individuals who are going homeless because they don't have transportation to get from highway 27 to get to work," said Mike McGriff, who started the petition about three weeks ago.
McGriff brought up the issue with commissioners, but the final decision is up to the Transportation Planning Organization.
The TPO is a board made up of elected officials from Marion County, and the cities of Ocala, Belleview and Dunnellon.
"At our TPO meetings we have looked at expanding into different areas, but because of the budgetary concerns it's just something we haven't been able to do," said Marion County Commission Chair Kathy Bryant.
An analysis by the TPO determined that to extend a bus route west of I-75 it would cost about $750,000 for the first year and then about $300,000 every year after.
Cunty Commissioner Carl Zalak said the cost is overwhelming.
"Everything at this point because of the allocations would come completely from Marion County general fund and completely from the city of Ocala if there was any cost sharing. There is no no more state participation, there is no more federal participation for the level of transportation left for us to access," said Zalak.
Some people said they aren't ready to give up.
"They are going to hear me four, five six times if they have to, but I am not going to stop until we get transportation back there," said McGriff.
Commission Chair Bryant said next budget year the TPO will start talking and then they will decide if they are interested in looking at expanding out in that area.
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