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Company to survey county on public transit

Monday, September 27, 2004

They won't be trying to issue you a new credit card or give you a "free" trip to Disney World.

So public transit consultant Frank Spielberg politely asks, "Please don't hang up on us."

In the coming weeks, beginning in October, Spielberg's company, BMI-SG, will be asking questions at public places and conducting 800 telephone surveys to shape his recommendation regarding an overhaul of public transit within the county.

The public input, he says, will be vital to the process in determining the met and unmet needs in transit service and how much county residents might be willing to pay for more service.

The public input portion of the $225,000 study will begin with booths set up in high-traffic areas such as Wal-Mart, Save-A-Lot, city hall and the public health department.

Passers-by will be asked to fill out surveys.

The surveys will include questions about whether transit issues should be addressed in the city's transportation trust fund sales tax that expires and will be up for renewal next summer.

"We also want to see if the county, as a whole, thinks about another quarter-cent sales tax," Spielberg said.

Spielberg spent Monday and Tuesday last week in Cape Girardeau, his second round of interviews with people who have stakes in transit issues. So far, Spielberg has determined there is definitely a need for more service.

"It's not 50 percent, but it's not insignificant," he said, referring to the percentage of people who need public transit. "And if you're one of the people who needs it, then it's real significant."

Once the data are calculated and received, Spielberg will make a recommendation. Soon after, the public will be invited to open meetings where they can review the suggestions and provide more input.

Earlier this spring, the United Way of Southeast Missouri and the Community Caring Council released a study which said that public transportation is the biggest problem facing the county.

Currently, there are no fixed-route systems in Cape Girardeau. Instead, separate agencies provide services for specific groups.

Cape Girardeau County Transit Authority director Jeff Brune said the current study is different than any one done in the past because it will lay out plans to solve the problems.

Other past studies have only made minor recommendations, he said.

The study is being paid for by the Federal Transit Administration and overseen by MoDOT.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635


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