Transportation Advisory Committee learns of deviated fixed route possibility for Phelps County

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The Meramec Regional Planning Commission’s Transportation Advisory Committee was updated on the progress of a Southeast Missouri Transportation System feasibility study that could lead to a deviated fixed route in Rolla with connections to St. James and Salem. 

The Transportation Advisory Committee was updated at its June 10 meeting. 

According to a news release from the Meramec Regional Planning Commission, the Southeast Missouri Transportation System has contracted with the commission to conduct the feasibility study for the potential new route. 

A fixed-route bus system is characterized by a designated travel route with set schedules and stops where passengers can board and de-board. 

A deviated fixed route allows for pick-ups within a quarter-mile of fixed stops. 

According to a news release from the Meramec Regional Planning Commission, the bus service would be modeled after the Bluff Area Transit Service in Poplar Bluff and the Connect Service in St. Francois County, both of which are operated by the Southeast Missouri Transportation System. 

Both systems have fees ranging from $1 per boarding, $3 all-day passes, and pre-paid punch cards with discounted prices. 

While the Rolla service would not be identical to Bluff Area Transit Service or connect in the number of stops or pricing, it will likely operate very similarly if such a service is found to be feasible, according to the Meramec Regional Planning Commission.  

The study is also looking at connector routes from Salem to Rolla and from St. James to Rolla.

“With the problems employers are facing, this could solve some problems,” Meramec Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Bonnie Prigge said during the meeting. “If transportation is a barrier, this could hopefully reduce that barrier.” 

Currently, the Meramec Regional Planning Commission is accepting public input on the possible route and stops from Phelps and Dent counties via two online surveys that residents can find at www.meramecregion.org/surveys/. 

One survey is for the general public, and the other is for students in the Rolla area.

Additionally, during the meeting:

  • Freand gave an update on the road safety audit that will take place at Route E and Robart Road in Washington County to be completed by June 30. The road safety audit will look for low-cost solutions to the issues plaguing the intersection that can be handled by the Missouri Department of Transportation or locals.
  • Steve Englebrecht with the Missouri Department of Transportation gave an update on the 2022-26 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which will be presented to the Missouri Highway Commission on July 1.
  • Heard a report from Meramec Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Bonnie Prigge on the number of fatalities in the region. According to Prigge, the state is seeing an increase in fatalities when compared to 2020. As of June 6, 365 people had lost their lives on Missouri roadways, compared to 351 for the same time period in 2020. Fourteen of those fatalities in 2021 were in the Meramec Region. Statewide in 2021, 72 percent of the fatalities were not wearing seatbelts. Prigge has ‘Buckle Up, Phone Down’ signs for anyone who would like to install one on a parking lot.
  • Lastly, a nominating committee was formed to recommend a slate of officers for the Transportation Advisory Committee to consider at its August meeting.

Individuals needing more information on the Transportation Advisory Committee may contact the Meramec Regional Planning Commission at 573-265-2993. 

The group will meet again at 4 p.m. Aug. 8 at 4 Industrial Drive, in St. James. 

Meetings are open to the public. George Lauritson, mayor of St. Robert, chairs the Transportation Advisory Committee.