VERO BEACH — As part of its regular planning process officials with the GoLine bus service are considering a 15th route to the system to connect the northern barrier island with the northern part of Indian River County.
GoLine representatives say the proposed route would connect one of the last population centers in the county with the free bus system.
“We are considering it as a long-range plan as a way to connect our routes and people in the county, and one thing we are looking at is the strip along A1A,” said Karen Deigl, president of the Indian River Senior Resource Association, which oversees the county bus system.
However, she stressed that the proposed route is simply in the planning stages and there currently is no money and no plans to add another route to the system.
The route under consideration travels from Highway A1A starting at Pelican Plaza north to the Wabasso Causeway and ends at County Road 510 and 58th Avenue.
“It is all based on funding, what we are going to be able to afford,” she said. “We want to maintain the system where we are at this point, and I can’t guess if it will be in the next 12 months or not, but it is something under consideration.”
There is currently one route, which starts at Humiston Park and travels as far north as the Village Beach Market, before heading west through the Miracle Mile area and finishing at the main transportation hub.
“This (proposed) route will offer transportation to people going to work,” Deigl said. “Disney is a perfect example. They have employees that may need transit. The Village Shops have asked us about having a route, bringing people from the beach area to shop at their stores as well or bring them up from Disney. This was one area (in the bus system) that was missing connectivity.”
Phil Matson, Director of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, said reviews of the system are a regular part of the planning process and are required as part of their funding from the Florida Department of Transportation.
“We haven’t done anything formal yet,” he said. “We have identified what would be the most rational things to do in terms of capturing more riders and this is just one of the options.”
He did say that grants do come up from time to time and it important to be ready when the opportunities arise.
“FDOT has been very generous in giving us new grant funds and the reason is that when they do we turn them into a productive service,” he said. “For instance, we expanded to Saturday service which has been very popular. They gave us grant dollars to extend our service into the evening. So we have credibility with the funding organizations.”
GoLine is on track to provide service to 800,000 riders this year, which would mark about a 100,000 increase over 2009. The system currently runs 14 routes throughout the county
“That is remarkable because we don’t have a university and we don’t have a disproportionate number of low income neighborhoods. We are a pretty affluent community,” he said. “We really are making good use of this. The seniors, working class neighborhoods, students, anyone over 13 can ride, so it is kind of a nice alternative for teenagers.”