The public will have a chance to share thoughts on the creation of a new rural transit district and view its proposed bus routes Thursday.

A public meeting on the subject will take place at 5:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Courtroom of the McLennan County Courthouse, 501 Washington Ave.

County Judge Scott Felton will lead discussions on the proposed district.

Felton has said an expanded rural transit district, offering more services than what is available now, could by funded by rerouting the county’s state and federal transit grant money from the Heart of Texas Council of Governments and funneling it to a new program that contracts with Waco Transit System.

HOTCOG currently uses the money in its six-county regional transit program that uses vans to pick up riders in rural areas. But Felton said McLennan County isn’t getting the best benefit for its money by funding the other counties.

“I think this will be really good for the community,” Felton said of the new district.

“I wouldn’t think any taxpayer in McLennan County would object to it,” he said. “It’s not costing them any more money. We’re just redirecting funds.”

County commissioners received presentations from Waco Transit officials about what the proposed district could look like if they were the provider.

Waco Transit contracts with the city of Waco to provide fixed bus routes throughout the city’s urbanized area.

Residents at Thursday’s meeting also will be able to view a map of proposed bus routes to be covered in the district.

“If the routes need to be adjusted, we can do that too,” Felton said.

Commissioner Ben Perry said when companies inquire about locating in McLennan County, one of the first questions they ask is if there is a transit system to get residents to and from work.

“I can’t see anyone that lives in the rural areas that would be against additional routes and additional funding for the transit system,” Perry said.

Felton thinks the rural transit district will not only help rural residents get to work, but also provide rides to those needing medical checkups or trying to get to school.

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