Tupelo's Public Transportation Committee voted unanimously Friday to recommend a contract with Northeast Mississippi Community Services to run two buses within the city limits.
One bus would follow a fixed route with regular stops; the other would provide individual rides to residents who call for an appointment.
It would cost $1 per one-way trip for riders.
The city would pay $57,000 a year to NEMCS for the service, which includes the buses, drivers, fuel, maintenance and insurance.
The system would operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Tupelo could cancel the contract at any time with a 30-day notice, said NEMCS Executive Director Steve Gaines.
"You won't get a better deal than that," said Tupelo's Chief Operations Officer Darrell Smith, who attended the two-hour meeting at City Hall.
The committee's recommendation now goes to the City Council for its approval. The council meets Tuesday, but it's unclear whether the item will be on its agenda. If not, the council would take it up Oct. 20 and service could begin by the end of the month.
NEMCS is a private, nonprofit community action agency based in Booenville that provides transportation in several parts of the region, including Alcorn and Tishomingo counties.
If approved, the contract will provide immediate service for residents who can't drive - such as the blind, handicapped or elderly - but also will serve the general public.
In addition, it will allow the committee to gather data on rider demand and routes. Members will use that information in considering a larger system down the road.
The committee initially wanted to hire a professional transit consultant to collect that data and recommend a bus system for Tupelo. That plan still is on the table, but members decided Friday to let NEMCS run for a few months before hiring a consultant.
According to member Jim Casey, NEMCS will provide a living study of the community's transit needs, which might prove more useful than a study from an outside firm.
At the least, he said, it could complement a professional study should the group still decide to do one later.
NEMCS would be able to start serving Tupelo immediately after leaders approve and sign the contract, said Travis Shea, transportation director. A fixed route has yet to be decided, however.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.