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Casa Grande has grown not only in population, but its area has expanded greatly in recent decades. Now it takes longer to get some places, and walking often isn’t possible. With that comes a certain demand for public transportation, which always is a challenge for cities because of its cost and frequent under-utilization.

The city of Casa Grande is studying options for transit and is focusing on a limited ride-share concept with a few vans. And starting on a limited basis certainly makes sense.

Coolidge long has had systems giving in-town rides and also intercity. The latter actually connects with Casa Grande and Florence as well as Central Arizona College’s Signal Peak Campus. Maricopa provides transportation around its city. Some Casa Grande residents have been served by Coolidge’s Central Arizona Regional Transit, or CART, for years.

Casa Grande has proceeded methodically, doing a transit study in recent years. The City Council this week saw a presentation on the possibility of rolling out a “micro-transit” service where shared van rides could be booked. The vehicles would travel within a defined area but not on a schedule. The plan calls for starting with three vehicles running 12 hours on weekdays and eventually adding vehicles and weekend trips. A small fee of $1.50 would be added after a few months, once people had a chance to try out the service.

The city’s consultant suggested having a transit coordinator but using a contractor to provide the vehicles, operators and a service app. Federal funds are available to help pay for such services. Perhaps coordination with other cities eventually could be included as well.

Casa Grande has much more traffic than it formerly did but has a capable traffic engineer, Duane Eitel, who has worked to keep things moving, including with programming of traffic signals. He also is working with the consultant on the transit project.

Casa Grande has many older people and others who need transportation. A good, practical service could win over some other riders, which would take some cars off the road. The transit plan seems like a sensible approach to get started without a huge expense.

— Donovan Kramer Jr.

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