March 27, 2007
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FORT LEONARD WOOD COMMUTER SERVICE TO BEGIN OPERATION MAY 1
ST. JAMES—Fort Leonard Wood employees living in the Rolla and Lebanon areas who are interested in daily commuter services to and from the Fort are encouraged to register for the new service.
USA Express in partnership with Meramec Regional Planning Commission, the Missouri Transportation Institute and Fort Leonard Wood will kick off the Fort Leonard Wood Commuter Service on May 1, in Rolla and Lebanon.
The service will provide a daily shuttle for interested workers from Rolla to Fort Leonard and back, and from Lebanon to Fort Leonard Wood and back for $110 per month for qualifying government employees. The price is actually $220 per month but the federal government will pay $110 per month directly to the carrier as part of a mass transportation benefit program.
“Basically, if you are a federal employee working at Fort Leonard Wood, you can ride to work in luxury for $5.00 per day,” said Nick Barrack, owner of USA Express. “There’s no way even a couple of people can carpool for that price and that doesn’t consider the comfort and other benefits. The shuttle service will be provided with a full-size 47-passenger motorcoach with reclining seats, televisions, restroom, and wi-fi internet access. Beverages will also be available on the buses and there will be storage space underneath for bicycles and other things”.
“We have tried to take the stress out of the I-44 commute for our Fort Leonard Wood workers,” said Mr. Barrack. “The buses will allow you to ride in comfort and relax, if you wish, or work while you ride.”
The service’s departure and arrival times in Rolla and Lebanon will be determined by the majority of riders. As ridership increases, more buses will be added with different departure times. Also, as a part of the monthly fee, riders have access to one pre-paid cab ride per month, should they need to leave early due to illness or other emergency or stay late because of work.
Both the commuter service registration form and the Department of Defense mass transportation benefit program application are available at USA Express website at www.usaxonline.com. Persons needing more information can call 1-800-296-7857 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The Fort Leonard Wood Commuter Service is the result of many months of planning. A feasibility study, conducted by UMR graduate students and Missouri Transportation Institute in partnership with MRPC and Fort Leonard Wood, indicated sufficient interest to support service between Rolla or Lebanon and Fort Leonard Wood. MRPC continues to study reverse commute options in a transit program, especially the Fort Leonard Wood route, and UMR and MTI are investigating the possibility of hydrogen-powered vehicles. The feasibility study is being funded through a grant from the Missouri Department of Transportation. UMR has secured a grant for hydrogen-powered buses, which will be included in the shuttle service in the near future.
“MRPC is involved because of our interest in transportation planning and transit,” said Richard Cavender, MRPC’s executive director. “Mass transit is a way of reducing the number of cars on our roadways and saving energy; however, rural areas typically don’t have the numbers to financially support mass transportation. Here with Fort Leonard Wood, we have enough people coming from Rolla and Lebanon to make the system work, and we have private company willing to take the risk. We hope to find other opportunities around our region that lend themselves to mass transit solutions, “ Cavender added. “We thank Nick Barrack and USA Express/USA Tours for their willingness to provide this service.”