The Lee County Board of County Commissioners have approved a proposal for LeeTran to begin bus service to northern Collier County in October.
The commission's approval of the agreement with Collier County clears the way for LeeTran to make adjustments to existing service in Bonita Springs and accept state and federal grants to fund the extension of service on U.S. 41.
LeeTran plans to provide a commuter bus route called the "Linc" from its southernmost transfer center at U.S. 41 and Bonita Beach Road, to Collier's northern transfer point at U.S. 41 and Immokalee Road. The "LinC" will connect with the current 140 route which travels on U.S. 41 as far north as Merchants Crossing in North Fort Myers, according to Joann Haley, marketing director.
Concurrently, LeeTran will change the Bonita Springs 150 route to become primarily east-west service. It will add service on West Terry Street, and absorb a portion of LeeTran's trolley route, traveling on Bonita Beach Road from U.S. 41 to Lovers Key State Park, Haley said.
"This project was identified as a priority by the Metropolitan Planning Organizations of both counties several years ago," said Transit Director Steve Myers. "The goals are to ease traffic along U.S. 41 and I-75, and expand employment opportunities."
This prioritization by the joint MPO's led the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to award a service development grant in late 2009. LeeTran will receive $850,221 in state funds and $152,913 in federal funds toward the project. Lee County's cost will remain the same as for the service currently running.
"We've received many inquiries from the public about when they can expect service to Collier County," Myers said. "We hope this will encourage commuters who currently cross the county line every day to use LeeTran's LinC instead, saving fuel and money, and reducing traffic congestion."