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Charlotte County's best kept secret: free bus rides for all

Charlotte County Transit offers free curb-to-curb transit for everyone.
Posted at 12:54 PM, Mar 04, 2024

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — Charlotte County Transit offers free curb-to-curb transit for all residents, and officials are calling it the county's best kept secret.

Unlike typical transit systems that use bus stops, the CCT will pick riders up from anywhere in the county and take them directly to where they need to go.

"Anyone who needs a ride anywhere, we will pick them up at home," said District 4 County Commissioner Stephen R. Deutsch. "We will take them to where they have to go and we will pick them up and bring them back home, and there's no cost to Charlotte County residents."

For riders like Jackie McGraw who can't drive because of an eye condition, access to the bus means having freedom.

"The bus picks me up every day, five days a week to come to the Y (YMCA) and if it wasn’t for the bus I couldn’t come, and I love the Y,” said McGraw. "They take me to the doctor, the dentist, the grocery store, they take me everywhere."

Averaging 250-300 riders a day, CCT ridership is returning to pre-pandemic levels. Currently the only way to book a ride with CCT is over the phone, but that will change as a ride reservation app is being developed and is expected to debut in April.

"What we have coming is a mobile app that will allow users to book trips at the fingertips on the phone, view where their bus is, and to cancel reservations as well," said Heidi Maddox, Transit Operations Manager at CCT.

Maddox said the bus fare was dropped during the pandemic and has not resumed, but it could return in the future pending a fare study, public input and county approval.

For now, the mix of county funds, state and federal grants will keep the free rides rolling.

"Transit is heavily grant funded, we rely as little as we can on county general fund dollars," said Maddox. "We apply and seek out federal and state grant funding on a regular basis and we try very hard to use that funding to support the system in Charlotte County."

To book a ride, call 941-575-4000 Monday-Friday 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. Buses run 6:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.