DeSoto County transportation needs being studied

By The Associated Press

HERNANDO, Miss. (AP) — The Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization and Memphis Area Transportation Authority. DeSoto County are sponsoring a study of transportation needs in fast-growing DeSoto County.

The county needs responses to the survey on whether buses, vans or shuttles would attract enough riders across the county or to and from Memphis, said Supervisor Lee Caldwell of Nesbit.

“It’s real important that we participate in and take this survey,” she told The Commercial Appeal.

The MPO is a regional agency responsible for planning and programming long-range transportation facilities in the Memphis Metropolitan Area, of which DeSoto County is a part.

This is the first year Hernando “actually has been placed within the MPO area,” city community development director Shelly Johnstone said.

“The big issue remains whether there’s a critical mass, enough people interested in public transit to make it work from a financial perspective,” said Johnstone, noting that past mass-transit feelers in DeSoto have faltered due to lack of support.

“People like convenience; that’s why they choose to drive a car over public transportation. But driving or parking a car in an urban area miles away can be expensive and inconvenient. That’s why we need planning and why this survey is vital,” she said.

The MPO and Mata contracted with Nelson/Nygaard, San Francisco-based transportation planning consultants, to consider the possibilities of developing transit services and work with county stakeholders — residents, land and business owners and operators and officials — and to create a broad vision of public transportation in the county.