Could Salina have regular mass transit, just like big cities - or even like small cities had just a few decades ago?
That's the plan - a joint effort involving the Kansas Department of Transportation, the city of Salina and the Occupational Center of Central Kansas Inc., which features six-day-a-week bus service running regular routes through much of the city and more than 150 bus stops.
The center, also called OCCK, is a nonprofit corporation to help people with physical or mental disabilities, according to its Web site at www.occk.com.
The bus service is to start in October, and a public forum on the plan is set for 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at the OCCK office, 340 N. Sante Fe.
The plan is to run three different routes, with several transfer points connecting those different routes. Buses would run from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. During expected peak times, buses will run every 30 minutes; otherwise, they'll run every hour.
In all, OCCK expects to have six buses and 16 drivers for the routes. Prices will be $1 for a single trip, $2 for a one-day pass, $5 for a six-day ticket and $30 for a monthly pass.
"The first year is a work in progress," said OCCK chief financial officer Patrick Wallerius. "The stops we've designated could change."
OCCK to operate service
OCCK will be running the service, but it will be subsidized by a combination of city and state funds; the state share for the first year is estimated at a little more than $200,000, or about 20 percent of the cost, with the Kansas Department of Transportation paying 80 percent.
In late July, city manager Jason Gage told the Salina City Commission he expects the CityGo system to have 110,000 riders.
At least, initially, Wallerius said, the system will use buses with a capacity of 14 to 16 passengers.
OCCK will be managing the service because it already has experience running a bus service in town, Wallerius said.
"We have the infrastructure, the knowledge," he said. "Everybody's looking for us to do this, and we thought long and hard about whether we wanted to do this."
He said he's also hoping some riders will be attracted to the service simply because mass transit is more environmentally friendly than private cars.