Plans to establish a small urban bus system in Brunswick are ongoing, but the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing city officials to consider some modifications.

City Manager Regina McDuffie said a presentation is planned for an upcoming meeting to update city commissioners about the effort to create a public transportation system.

“We are still exploring alternatives for what will be sustainable for the city,” she said. “I think the biggest question is COVID. City commissioners will determine how to go forward.”

McDuffie said the pandemic is fueling uncertainty about how many people will use a bus service when it is established.

Prior to the pandemic, the city was awarded a grant of more than $1.7 million to create a bus service. Six routes were planned in the city and outside city limits, with the county sharing some of the cost.

The plan was to start out with small- to medium-sized buses rather than purchase larger vehicles that might prove to be unnecessary.

While the goal is to create a self-sustaining system, McDuffie said the city will likely have to subsidize some of the costs to make the rides affordable to consumers.

She said there may have to be some reduced routes and perhaps even an on-demand transportation service.

McDuffie said plans are to have a timeline by the end of the year to determine when the service will begin.

The city has to create a transit advisory committee, transit service and organization plans. It also must hold public hearings to discuss routes and fares, create a human services plan, choose the vehicles, have a maintenance schedule, and create bus stops and hubs.

“I want it to be impactful when it actually works,” she said. “We want to market it as a good product.”

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