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10/26/2018 6:18:00 PM
Officials highlight Harrison County's public transit

Ross Schulz, Corydon Democrat

Public transportation is not something most folks think about in Harrison County.

In some parts of the country, it's the only option considered and is a normal part of everyday life.

It most likely will never become the main option in Harrison County, but residents may not be aware there is a public transportation system available to anyone for a minimal cost.

"In rural America, most people, they want to have their car," Darrell Voelker, Harrison County Economic Development Corp. director, said last week during a Southern Indiana Transit System review meeting for Harrison County officials and interested residents.

Blue River Services Inc. representatives hosted the meeting at the Harrison County Community Foundation building in Corydon.

"It's still an ongoing thing where you have to educate people," Roland Lemus, Blue River Services' transportation director, said. "Unless you have big signs and stations, like San Francisco or Chicago. We're not set up like that."

Harrison County Commissioner Jim Heitkemper said it's a different culture.

Lemus said traffic continues to grow in and around Corydon.

"My three-minute commute has turned into nine," he said. "It's worse through here (speaking of the S.R. 337 area leading north out of downtown Corydon); traffic is building up."

Southern Indiana Transit System was created in 2000 as a four-county system, serving Harrison, Crawford, Scott and Washington.

The public transit system is paid for by state funding and local matching dollars from Harrison County government.

Through the third quarter of 2018, a total of 12,411 routes were conducted in the four-county region, including 9,501 in Harrison County. Those routes included public/deviated routes, transit/deviated routes and public demand/response (the bulk of the routes).

Blue River Services initially started transportation services in 1959, providing clients transportation to various required locations within the service area. That included medical transportation services.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, BRS Inc. initiated grant processes to help provide transportation for the community through several avenues such as the United Way, WHAS Crusade for Children and the Harrison and Crawford counties community foundations.

In the beginning, the BRS fleet included 10 vehicles. Now, the system has 24 dedicated vehicles and 13 full- and part-time drivers.

The drivers are heavily scrutinized by the Indiana Dept. of Transportation, Lemus said.

"They're capable and trained," he said.

The system works on demand response, meaning a person calls the dispatch center needing a ride (812-738-1681), they get on the ride schedule and then they are picked up.

"Then we do it all over again the next day," Lemus said.

Veterans and seniors are offered discount prices and free ride-day promotions.

Other than the daily rides and routes, the Southern Indiana Transit System provides shuttles for major events like Lanesville Heritage Weekend, the Kiwanis' Fourth of July Fireworks display at Old Capital Golf Club in Corydon and more.

"Any shuttle event the county wants us to do, if we can do it; we'll get it done," Lemus said.

The busy time for the transportation service is usually throughout summer.

"This year was not that way," Lemus said. "We're busier now than in the summer. The phone is ringing off the hook."

The cost for a normal one-way trip within nine miles is $2.

For more information, visit www.brsinc.org.

"We're always hiring drivers and dispatchers," Lemus said. "It's an ongoing process."

He said the drivers and BRS staff pay attention to detail and make sure things get done right.

"That's what we do, and try to do every day," he said.








Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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