On Monday, for the first time ever, Macon Transit will drive workers from another county into Macon to work.
The bus service is also significantly expanding its Macon shuttle service to Robins Air Force Base, adding service to areas on the south side of the base.
Rick Jones, CEO of the Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority, said the changes potentially allow more than 1,000 Geico workers from Houston County and beyond to catch a bus to work from Warner Robins Ferguson Park on Elberta Road. Those buses, returning from service to Robins Air Force Base, had been coming back empty.
You build the links between communities, Jones said.
Key to the change is the citys donation of 33 parking spaces at Ferguson Park toward the weekday service. That gives a park-and-ride location outside Robins Air Force Bases security to allow riders to gather.
Now, with somewhere to park, they can come, said Jade Daniels, administrative and operations manager for Macon Transit.
Jones said some of the areas businesses had had a difficult time filling skilled positions, even when the areas unemployment rate was particularly high. The Macon Transit service can also get people to training programs to help the economy.
John Pugh, deputy director of the 78th Mission Support Group at the base, said the earlier incarnation of the Robins shuttle brought people only to the north end of the base, mostly along the flight line. The new route adds four stops, including southern stops near the base exchange and the clinic.
Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms said he didnt know what the economic impact of the bus service would be, but he predicted long-term improvements with expansions of training opportunities.
The bus service will benefit both Warner Robins and Macon, he said.
The Robins shuttle started small but has been bringing 2,000 to 4,000 people a month to the base, Jones said.
Service through Ferguson Park, both north and south, will be made on bus Routes 7 and 10. Schedules are available at www.mta-mac.com online.
Route 7 will circulate around Robins Air Force Base and back to Ferguson Park. Route 10 will run from Macons Terminal Station to Ferguson Park and back.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.