February 28, 2013 10:04:02 AM
Jeff Clark - [email protected]
Although there has been little public discussion on the matter over the past couple of months, negotiations to allow a private bus company to operate in Columbus are still being discussed, city attorney Jeff Turnage said.
Turnage said Wednesday the city is still in talks with Lawrence Transit System of Lawrence, Ind., which announced its plans to locate in Columbus more than six months ago. The bus company began running routes in Lawrence in May 2012.
"I don't really know where we stand right now," Turnage said. "In my last conversation with Lawrence Transit, the owner, Cliff Redden, said he wanted to lease a site from the city to store the buses. I suggested they come down and visit Columbus and pick out a spot in person instead of doing this over the phone."
Turnage said the conversation was held a couple of weeks ago.
In August, Travis Jones, the city's director of federal programs, presented the bus idea to the city council. Jones said Redden was interested in bringing some buses to Columbus at no cost to the city, but the city would need to provide some in-kind services, such as signs and pick-up points. In September, the council voted unanimously to allow Redden to bring three buses to the city, with more buses expected to arrive after contracts are signed.
In November, Jones sent an email on behalf of Redden saying the bus service had partnered with the city and it was seeking donations from the city's private sector. Turnage was quick to say the company would be operating independently of the city and that no partnership had been formed.
On the company's website, lawrencetransitsystem.org, the company claims it is hiring drivers for the Columbus service. A company spokesperson previously said the company would be paying $15 an hour for qualified drivers.
So far, no bus routes or pick-up points have been released by Redden or Lawrence Transit System. Redden has still not met with city leaders face-to-face to discuss the Columbus service.