LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Many people in Pulaski County depend on public transit every day.
Now, they are keeping a close eye on a new sales tax increase initiative approved earlier this week that would fund public transit.
“I go everywhere on the bus,” said Marcus Blair.
After riding the Rock Region METRO buses for nearly ten years, Blair knows the ins and outs of every route and said they could use some improving.
He gets on a bus every day at 7:09 a.m. on the dot, with work being his most important stop.
“I took the bus to Project SEARCH to learn,” Blair said.
UAMS’s Project SEARCH is a one-year internship program for people with developmental disabilities who want sustainable, competitive employment.
Blair graduates in May.
“Get me a part-time job,” he said.
Blair can only look for jobs on a bus route since it is his only transportation.
He wishes he had more options.
“New routes and everything,” Blair said.
Pulaski County voters could make that happen.
The quorum court approved an initiative Tuesday to put a quarter-cent sales tax on the March 1 ballot.
The tax would increase public transit funding by almost $6 million, which would allow Rock Region METRO to shorten wait times, lengthen the times buses run and more.
“We’re just talking about a fourth of a penny,” said one justice of the peace at the meeting.
Eight justices of the peace saw a need to expand services, while six members opposed the initiative.
Opponents said the county should be more efficient with the money it has.
“We’re taxed to death, literally,” said another justice of the peace at the meeting.
However, Blair said he and other people who depend on the bus are tired of waiting so long for buses and change.
“About 45 minutes to get to the bus stop and beyond,” Blair said.
He is job hunting in Maumelle, which currently has an express route to Little Rock with no afternoon routes.
If Pulaski County votes ‘yes’ to the sales tax in March, Maumelle, along with Jacksonville, Sherwood and West Little Rock, would have its first-ever fixed route system.