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St. Lucie County bus rides free until 2019

Posted at 4:36 PM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-27 19:01:25-04

On Bus Route 3 in St. Lucie County, the fare collection boxes are empty, on purpose.

“Now that I’m able to ride the bus, it’s very very good," said Myrtle Cole of Fort Pierce.

A grant from the Florida Department of Transportation is allowing the county to provide free bus service until 2019.

“We have a barrier to achievement and we have a barrier to success and transportation is one of those barriers," said Murriah Dekle, the Transit Manager for St. Lucie County.

A recent study by the American Public Transportation Association found that 87%, 7 out of 8 public transit trips, have a direct impact on the economy, by getting people to work, school, and retail.

Robin Smith says just putting that $4 roundtrip fare towards other basic needs makes a big difference.

“I have freedom now. I can go wherever I want now.  I don’t feel trapped in my apartment all day anymore," said Smith.

Drivers are already seeing an increase in ridership since the program started at the beginning of September.

“Right now, every trip I take in, I take a bus load out," said driver Benjamin Prince.

Dekle says they’re hoping for a 20-percent ridership bump, while helping the bottom line of those who help others.

“Local non-profit agencies spend about $15,000 a year providing bus tickets for their clients.”

And the Treasure Coast Connector makes connections, as certain routes end in both Martin and Indian River Counties.