TUPELO – Years of discussing a city public transportation system have yielded few results, but local and state government officials will team up with advocates next week to renew the conversation.
City Council members, Mayor Jason Shelton, city department heads, members of the inactive transportation committee, state and local members of the AARP and a representative of the state Department of Transportation will gather at 2 p.m. Wednesday for an informational meeting.
Ivory Craig, community outreach representative with the state chapter of the AARP, said the two-hour meeting was planned after discussions with Shelton and City Council President Nettie Davis.
“It’s our opportunity to talk about how community transportation can benefit the citizens of the city,” Craig said. “It’s a win-win for everybody and meets the needs of citizens and visitors.”
Using the term “community transportation,” Craig said she includes cycling, walking, dialing a service for a ride, a van service for select populations and a busing service. Previous discussions led to a July 2010 study that indicated several options for public transit. It projected first-year costs for the city between $337,500 and $677,750.
In Shelton’s general public policy proposals he unveiled while running for office earlier this year, he included transportation as a key priority, including taking a comprehensive approach such as “exploring fiscally responsible ways to develop a system of public transportation, and, making quality-of-life enhancements such as more sidewalks, fitness trails and bicycle lanes.”
Shelton said Friday the need for citywide public transportation isn’t disputed; however, the city’s biggest challenge is finding an affordable system that meets needs of possible transit users.