Monday, February 28, 2011

BikeWalkLee letter to commissioners in support of LeeTran/Collier service

February 27, 2011
Dear Commissioners:

BikeWalkLee, a coalition to complete the streets in Lee County, works for a more balanced transportation system, including a public transit system that is more efficient and effective. We urge you to support Item 7A on the March 1st agenda, which provides an agreement to implement inter-county public transit service between Collier and Lee County.

Earlier this month, BikeWalkLee participated in a transit plan development workshop with LeeTran. Our groups emphasized the glaring transit gap between Lee County and Collier counties. This is a very busy corridor with lots of employment opportunities on both sides of the county line. Transit service is important for many workers to be able to access those jobs. In addition, this inter-county line will serve the students of FGCU, many of whom live in Collier County. We are pleased to see that LeeTran has worked in partnership with Collier County and FDOT to come up with an innovative solution to solve this problem. With the State and Federal grant funds, along with a bus leased from Collier County, LeeTran will be able to meet the transit needs in this busy corridor. We urge you to approve this proposal. Thank you.

NOTE: The 3/1/11 Naples Daily News article explains the importance of this link:

Lee Tran bus system ready to add route from Bonita Springs to North Naples


BONITA SPRINGS — Bridging the gap between Collier and Lee counties by bus has come down to a vote.

Lee County commissioners are expected Tuesday to approve a new north-south bus route that will bring a Lee Tran bus into northern Collier County, connecting the four-mile span between Bonita Beach Road and Immokalee Road by early October.

“It’s important,” said Michael Horsting, a representative of Lee Tran. “It’s been on the radar for quite some time. We’ve been hearing from the public, both Lee and Collier residents, that there’s a desire for people to travel across county lines.”

Originally, Lee commissioners agreed to enter into a partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation, accepting a $626,000 grant last year toward creating the route. Because the plan was expected to be a joint venture between the two counties, Collier County government needed to pitch in $206,000.

Collier government leaders declined. Connie Deane, spokeswoman for Collier Area Transit, said the county was unable to provide the matching amount.

So Collier’s portion of the grant from DOT instead went to Lee County, making the total available for the Lee Tran route now $850,221, Horsting said.

If Lee commissioners approve the plan Tuesday, it’s enough money to keep Lee Tran’s new route running for at least two years.

Lee County government will not spend any additional money to support the proposal.

“The county (Lee) is not providing funding for service that should otherwise be funded by Collier County,” Lee Commissioner Ray Judah said. “I’m fine with providing a regional approach that benefits the riders with state matching funds to provide a more comprehensive route.”

Though Collier County government was unable to financially support the plan, it will provide a new vehicle for the bus route. Deane said money for the bus comes from a state grant called the Congestion Management System, totaling $375,000.

The new route, if Lee commissioners approve, will provide a north-south connection to get from Collier to Coconut Point mall in Estero. There, Horsting said, riders can transfer to anywhere in Lee County.

In Collier, the route to Immokalee Road will allow Lee riders to connect and travel anywhere in Collier County.

Steve Myers, Lee Tran’s transit director, said the new stop will be near Immokalee Road and U.S. 41, where Collier Area Transit currently has a stop.

In addition to this new route, the beach trolley service in Bonita Springs will expand. The current route between Lover’s Key State Park and U.S. 41 at Bonita Beach Road will continue into the “heart of Bonita Springs,” Horsting said, meaning the downtown area on Old 41 Road.

If Lee commissioners approve it, the county will have a more complete service both east-west and north-south.

“I support it,” Judah said. “It’s a terrific idea. It furthers the effort toward ‘regionalization’ of public transportation.” Click here to continue reading the article.

Bi-county connection coming: Lee agrees to link up bus system with Collier's

NDN Tuesday afternoon, March 1, 2011

The gap in bus service between Lee and Collier county will soon be bridged.

The Lee County Commission agreed 3-2 to reconfigure its bus service and extend it to Immokalee Road in Collier County as soon as October.

Commissioners Tammy Hall and Frank Mann dissented.

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