By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
The HOP bus system is looking for about $20,000.
Robert Ator, director of urban operations for the HOP, told the Killeen Transportation Committee on Tuesday that he would like the city to pitch in to pay for a dozen new shelters at bus stops throughout town.
Ator said if he can raise about $19,720, the HOP will qualify for a federal grant to receive $78,880. The grant, which was used to pay for the existing 16 shelters at bus stops three years ago, is an 80-20 match – the grant pays for 80 percent of the cost if the HOP provides 20 percent.
"I don't think we would have a problem getting the grant," Ator said.
Ator is proposing 12 locations to install shelters.
Among the top locations is the stop at the Scott & White Pharmacy on Cross Drive near the Scott & White Boulevard intersection.
"Scott & White couldn't be any simpler," Ator said, noting it's all pavement on a public right of way. "This is an ideal location for us ... We take a lot of people to Scott & White."
Other locations are well-utilized, but would require more work to install a shelter.
"Many of these are a little bit awkward to install because of the landscaping," Ator said.
For example, the stop at Central Texas Expressway and OW Curry Drive in front of Target and Applebee's is in a grassy area between the U.S. Highway 190 access road and Target's parking lot. Another stop in a similar situation is the one at the 440 Plaza on Fort Hood Street, where Elysabeth Semesac was waiting for the bus Friday morning.
Semesac, of New York, was in town to see her husband off for his deployment. She had been using the HOP the past two days to get around town. Semesac said she was at a bus stop near a busy road earlier.
"You kind of stand on the highway," Semesac said. "It's kind of scary."
She said as long as the weather is nice, like Friday, she doesn't mind standing at an uncovered bus stop.
"It doesn't bother me," Semesac said. "I'm from New York, it's nothing new."
But she does remember times in the Big Apple – where half the bus stops have no shelter – that the uncovered bus stop isn't so pleasant.
"It kind of sucks when it's raining," Semesac said.
Ator, by request of Killeen City Council members, researched possibly placing more shelters at bus stops. He is recommending the same shelters that are at the other locations.
"The type of shelter we're using right now is working pretty well," Ator said.
He has estimated the total cost to be $98,600. Ator said he knows the cost of the shelter – $4,300 each – but the cost of installation for each is just a guess.
He asked the Transportation Committee to consider recommending to the City Council to pay the 20 percent so he could get the 80 percent from a federal grant.
The committee asked him to consider getting contributions from businesses that the bus stops serve before the city supplements the costs.
"We can explore options," Ator said.
City Manager Connie Green said if the city allocated money for that project, it likely would have to come from the nondepartmental general fund.
Contact Kevin M. Smith at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7550