Collier pushes for more bus routes across the county

NAPLES, Fla. — Soon it might be easier for bus riders to cross county lines. Collier County is leading a campaign to create a regional public transportation system. County officials say such a system would benefit Southwest Florida’s overall economy and infrastructure.

Collier County Commissioners and Collier Area Transit are working to create more public roads between surrounding counties. They say it could bring more workers to the county and make it easier to get around on local roads.

“We are all interconnected. Regular traffic doesn’t see county lines when going up US 41 or I-75,” Collier County Commissioner William McDaniel said, explaining why it’s important bus riders can travel more. freely between counties.

McDaniel tries to create a committee of public transportation officials from Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties to solve the problem.

“This is the start of an essential communication between the different municipalities,” he added.

Allowing people to take a bus from further away could increase the number of workers in Collier, where high housing costs may force them to live elsewhere.

McDaniel said 17% of Collier County workers live outside the county.

“It increases the opportunities for people, the types of jobs, the various opportunities that employers give them,” said Amy Hanna-Eckenrode of CareerSource, an employment agency in Fort Myers. “It’s just a win-win situation for companies and job seekers looking for work.”

This would be a victory not only for people coming to Collier County, but also for people who live here.

“There are over 378,000 people in Collier County alone,” Hanna-Eckenrode said. “I would say a good chunk of them, 30 per cent, are at a level that could really benefit from the cost relief that transit provides.”

The benefits could go even further.

Omar Deleon, transit manager for Collier Area Transit, said the group’s 10-year plan includes reviewing transportation even beyond Lee County.

“I think it’s important to assess not just Lee County, but others, like Hendry County,” Deleon said. “Is there a potential connection there with Immokalee and Lehigh? These are all things that we are evaluating, reviewing and needing further analysis. »

Deleon and Commissioner McDaniel said public participation is essential to this project. When a new multi-county transit committee is formed, those meetings will be public, McDaniel said. And Deleon said Collier Area Transit would receive feedback via its website.

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