TAVARES — Lake County's new public transportation service, LakeXpress, is experiencing greater success than expected after only its second week of operation.
"We had a record 272 passengers yesterday which is phenomenal," said Ken Harley, Manager of the Lake County Public Transportation Division. "This is surpassing all expectations."
During the first week of service, LakeXpress counted approximately 700 passengers. In the second week, the passenger total more than doubled to 1,500. In addition, LakeXpress' new Web site, www.RideLakeXpress.com, has counted more than 800 visitors to the site.
Until Friday, Aug. 17, LakeXpress is offering free fares. According to officials, this free introductory period will help build interest in the service. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for LakeXpress will take place on Monday, June 11, at 9 a.m. at 315 W. Main St. in Tavares.
The LakeXpress fixed-route service began on May 21. LakeXpress is referred to as a fixed-route service because buses run along established paths at preset times picking up passengers. Currently, LakeXpress does not feature established bus stops, but riders can "flag" down a bus anywhere along the route.
To "flag" down a bus, a passenger needs to raise their hand and motion to the driver as the bus approaches. The driver will determine the most safe and convenient spot to allow passengers to board. Passengers may depart the bus in a similar manner by notifying the driver of their desired drop-off location. The driver will again determine the most safe and convenient spot to allow passengers to exit the bus. In the future, passengers may board and exit the bus at designated LakeXpress bus-stop locations, which will be installed in phases along each route.
LakeXpress operates Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Buses do not run on Saturdays, Sundays and the following federal holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. For more information about LakeXpress, call (352) 326-8637 or log on to www.RideLakeXpress.com.