Collier, Lee working toward joint bus service between the two counties

Coconut Point Mall

23106 Fashion Drive, Estero, FL

LeeTran and Collier Area Transit have an agreement to agree.

The two counties are moving toward jointly offering bus service that crosses the county line between 111th Avenue in Collier County and the Coconut Point Mall in Lee.

An agreement Lee commissioners approved Tuesday established ground rules — such as each county setting fares on its own buses — as the two departments work on an agreement.

If they can reach a final agreement there’s more than $650,000 at stake, money the state is willing to give to help fund the service. The grant was made available last year, too, but the two counties could not agree. Each would have to match the state grant dollar for dollar.

“We know there’s a demand for it,” said Carmen Monroy, a planner for LeeTran. “We get requests. It’s in our transit development plan. The state feels strongly about it.”

There are logistical issues. LeeTran doesn’t have a transfer system like Collier’s, which allows passengers to move between buses. In Lee County every time a passenger boards a bus he must pay.

The two agencies will duck that issue the easy way. A passenger boarding a LeeTran bus will pay a LeeTran fare. A passenger boarding a CAT bus will pay a CAT fare.

The agreement would allow Collier buses to travel to Coconut Point and Lee buses to cross the line, too. The hope is for a seamless ride between the two counties.

“It’s a regional opportunity in an important corridor,” Monroy said.

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