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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Changes coming to bus transit in fall

Gainesville's Regional Transit System has a few big changes en route for the fall semester.

New Later Gator buses, unlimited access passes for Santa Fe College students, new routes, extended services and bus frequency changes begin Aug. 15, when the Fall 2011 RTS bus service cranks up.

For those wanting to get downtown for late-night activities, two new Later Gator routes will be added to the growing lineup of public transit options. The new routes are Later Gator D and F.

RTS Marketing and Communications Supervisor Chip Skinner said the new routes are the result of numerous petitions by students living in distant apartment complexes who wanted a way downtown.

Route D will run every 30 minutes from the Rosa Parks Downtown Station to FloridaWorks at 4800 SW 13th Street. The service will be offered Thursday through Saturday from 8:45 p.m. until 2:30 a.m.

Route F will only be available Saturday nights from 8:30 until about 2:30 a.m. Buses will travel from the Rosa Parks Downtown Station to Butler Plaza every 30 minutes.

Getting from campus to popular apartment complexes should be a little easier as well. Route 28 will travel from the Hub at UF to The Estates about every 22 minutes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Route 46 circulator will travel from the Reitz Union to Southeast 3rd Avenue every half hour from 8 a.m. until 5:45 p.m.

The new Later Gator routes will increase student transportation fees by 33 cents per credit hour, a necessity to pay for the new services, Skinner said.

"It's always a delicate balance between ridership numbers and fees generated," he said.

Just like UF students, Santa Fe students will gain unlimited access to RTS buses. A new Florida law, which grants the college permission to charge a transportation fee of about $3 per credit hour, allows Santa Fe students, faculty and staff to flash an ID card to gain access to all RTS routes, Skinner said. The fee is expected to generate more than $1 million in the first year, he said.

The difference between transportation fees at Santa Fe and UF is there is more demand for transportation options at the latter institution.

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New routes are also planned for the Santa Fe area. Route 62 will connect the Lexington Crossing apartments to the Oaks Mall hourly Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Hopping on Bus 23 will then take you to the Santa Fe campus.

Route 27, an east-side circulator, will service the downtown Santa Fe campus, as well as residents in east Gainesville - an area that has long seen a disparity in service with west Gainesville, said Mayor Craig Lowe.

Skinner said RTS plans to increase the number of buses from the current 105 to 112 in the fall.

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