- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 12, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Proponents say a new name for the Central Arkansas Transit Authority represents the beginning of a more vibrant mass transit system in Pulaski County.

The agency will now be called Rock Region Metro, and it debuted its new environmentally friendly buses to the public on Tuesday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1IGgy63 ) reported.

The bus system will have 15 that are powered by compressed natural gas, which burns cleaner than the diesel the system’s fleet of 59 buses now uses. The move is expected to save the agency about $200,000 in fuel costs in the first full year of operation.

The entire fleet also now is equipped to offer free Wi-Fi to bus patrons. A new GPS-based mobile app, called Metro Tracker, will be available by September’s end to provide real-time passenger information. Both are the result of a $600,000 grant from Metroplan, a transportation planning agency for central Arkansas.

“We want to be the system that takes people to where they want to go: Leisure. Family. Work,” said Allie Freeman, chairman of the Rock Region Metro board of directors.



The rebranding initiative, he added, “is meant to be the face of the movement to modernize our transit system.”

Last month, the agency’s board of directors adopted a strategic plan that envisions a $23.3 million upgrade in bus service in the county, centering on a sales-tax increase that must be approved by voters.

The sales tax would pay for the construction and operation of two routes in the city using Bus Rapid Transit, a form of transit equipped with high-capacity buses. Where possible, the routes would feature dedicated lanes - lanes set aside for particular types of vehicles - to provide fast and frequent service.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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