Anyone who uses or has an interest in public transit is invited to make their voice heard Thursday.

Local transportation planners will hold a public meeting to gather input for a McLennan County Transit Need Study at 6 p.m. at the Waco Transit office building, 301 S. Eighth St.

Transit officials and consultants for the study will also be set up from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the adjacent Waco Transit terminal to hear feedback from riders.

“We’ll be set up through the course of the day,” Waco Transit general manager Allen Hunter said. “We understand not everybody can come to the meetings. The main thing is the public participating. We want to know, is our transit system meeting your needs? If not, why not? … If we can’t get them to come to the meeting, we’ll bring the meeting to them.”

The Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization commissioned the regional transit study, which is a requirement to qualify for state and federal funding. MPO director Chris Evilia said he expects the study to be useful for future transit improvements.

“We’re trying to get some idea for where the demand for transit exists, and whether that’s changed, and whether there are places that are underserved. How do we reallocate resources to address those gaps?”

Waco Transit serves the urbanized area of Waco with a hub-and-spoke system that results in hourlong loops. The MPO and city of Waco are pushing for a “bus rapid transit” system organized around a central express line to expedite crosstown trips. Evilia said the results of this transit needs study will be included in funding applications for that project.

Residents can also submit their opinions about transit online at http://atgplanning.typeform.com/to/gikp31.

J.B. Smith is the the Tribune-Herald managing editor. A native of Sulphur Springs, he attended Southwestern University and joined the Tribune-Herald in 1997. He and his wife, Bethany, live in Waco and have two children.

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