JETS holding public meeting about major changes

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, ARKANSAS (KAIT) --The JETS bus system in Jonesboro has just celebrated it's 5th anniversary. And over the years, the system has seen changes in its route system. This Thursday a public meeting will be held to get public input on possible changes.

Some of the jet routes have pretty good ridership. Some do not.

Making the JETS system more efficient and useable for the community is what the public hearing will be all about.

Steve Ewart the Transportation Coordinator for JETS says they have been analyzing rider data from the past 20 months.

Ewart, "To justify our routes to eliminate some of the less productive stops and maximize our resources on more productive stops."

In January 2010 JETS downsized and changed routes to try and maximize ridership. JETS currently runs 3 main routes and provides a paratransit service.

Federal law and a Jonesboro ordinance requires a public hearing anytime a transit company makes a major change.

Ewart showed me the current route map. On various locations there are big red dots, small red dots and blue and yellow dots.

Ewart, "There are certain parts of our route structure that don't justify us continuing."

On the big route map, red is low ridership, yellow and blue is good.

Ewart, "The yellow and the blue tend to be a little bit more North Jonesboro, West Jonesboro, the center of Jonesboro and out past the mall in the industrial park." "One of the problems. " Ewart says."Is that down South we have a yellow and blue dot at an apartment complex but all these red dots getting there. We can't afford to run an empty bus down to pick up and drop off. We need to pick up and drop off on the way there."

The possible elimination and re-designing of routes as will be discussed at the meeting.

Ewart, "We might be able to go from hour loops to 3/4 hour loops."

I tracked buses for an hour by following their schedule and found them usually right where and when they were supposed to be, give or take a minute or two.

Ewart says city and federal money for transportation is tight right now and is preventing expansion and special runs.

Ewart, "We could do things like run an evening express from the hotel area or from the university to downtown."

Ewart says he hopes Thursday's meeting will help provide better service for the daily rider.

"Get them to work, to shopping, to medical care, the various things a person does in the course of the day."

The JETS hearing will be held Thursday evening at 6 at the Jonesboro Public Library. The buses will run for an additional hour to accommodate those who ride the buses.

If you use the paratransit system and want to attend the meeting you need to call 870-935-5387 no later than Wednesday to reserve a seat.

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