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Q&A: Hernando Express

Dennis Dix of the Hernando County Planning Department has been working on the Hernando Express since the project began. He recently sat down with the Times to answer some questions.

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 27, 2002

Q: How does a rider catch the bus?

A: If you're not at a designated stop, just make eye contact with the driver and lift your hand or signal, and the driver will stop as close by as possible, safety permitting.

* * *

Q: Can I get off the bus someplace other than at a designated stop?

A: Yes. There's a pull cord that lights up a sign and alerts the driver, and you can get off anywhere on the route.

* * *

Q: Are the buses accessible to the handicapped?

A: Yes. They are all equipped with wheelchair lifts.

* * *

Q: Can riders take bicycles with them on bus trips?

A: Yes. Each bus has a bike rack on the front that can carry two bicycles. Riders will have to call The Bus number (754-4444) to get training to use the service safely; it's about a five-minute video.

* * *

Q: How are the routes marked?

A: There are 250 bus route signs -- 50 on the the Brooksville route and 100 each on Routes 1 and 2 in Spring Hill.

* * *

Q: Where can riders switch between bus routes?

A: Riders can switch between all three routes at the transfer facility at Mariner Boulevard and State Road 50. It's in the Beall's parking lot. There also are connections between Routes 1 and 2 at Northcliffe and Mariner Boulevards (Mariner Crossing), Mariner Boulevard and Spring Hill Drive (Seven Hills Plaza), U.S. 19 and Spring Hill Drive (future Wal-Mart Supercenter), Lake in the Woods Drive and U.S. 19 (Lakewood Plaza) and at Oak Hill Hospital.

* * *

Q: Who will be driving the buses?

A: There are five drivers dedicated to the system. They will be paid between $10 and $11 an hour. These are experienced bus drivers from other systems with a minimum of two years commercial experience. All are familiar with the county, have no points on their licenses and had to pass drug and alcohol screenings.

* * *

Q: Who will maintain the buses?

A: The county has set up a Hernando Express bus operations service, located in Brooksville.

* * *

Q: When might service be expanded?

A: The county has been receiving e-mails and letters from the people who would like expanded hours during the week and weekend service. County officials will be looking at that. The soonest the county could implement that would be about six months from now.

* * *

Q: Are there plans to eventually connect with the Pasco County system?

A: That could happen within three to five years. There is about a 5-mile gap between the systems that would have to be bridged.

* * *

Q: Are there any plans to increase the cost of fares?

A: No, at least for the first year of operation.

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