Study concludes Conway to Little Rock bus is feasible

CONWAY (KATV) - Commuters from the City of Colleges to the State Capitol could have another option soon.

A feasibility study conducted by Metroplan concluded there is interest in bus service from Conway to Little Rock and making it operational is feasible.

Jenny Kyle works at the College of Nursing at UAMS in Little Rock. Kyle makes the commute five days a week from her home in Conway, a fifty-minute ride each way she said, and that's on a good day.

"If I had an alternative, absolutely, that would be something that I would consider," said Kyle.

Metroplan announced Monday that alternative is one step closer to reality - completing a near year-long study on express bus service.

"The study found that it was possible," said Casey Covington, study director for Metroplan. "There will have to be some local contribution, particularly for the startup phase of the project and that's the next phase."

The study was initiated by Faulkner County as a method to get commuters to and from jobs in Little Rock.

The proposed start-up phase would factor in five different bus stops along the proposed I-40 route. Buses would pickup at the Park and Ride locations off the Dave Ward and Skyline Drive exits off of the interstate in Conway.

The buses would then drop off at Main and N. Poplar in North Little Rock, in addition to the River Cities Travel Plaza and a stop at 3rd and Bishop near the Capitol building.

But for commuters like Kyle, who work outside downtown, getting past these drop-off points to their places of work appear daunting.

"Working at UAMS, I'm a little bit further up Markham, and so if I'm directed to the CAT depot, how do I get further up Markham?" questioned Kyle.

It's not a concern for Central Arkansas Transit Authority right now, given that they haven't been contracted to provide the service yet.

Metroplan says the service could be operated through the City of Conway or Faulkner County, a bus operator like Greyhound, or by CATA. Metroplan says they aren't ready to make that decision yet since funding needs to be solidified first.

Covington mentioned that federal dollars exist for the operation of an express bus, but mentioned that Faulkner County will also have to contribute as well.

"If they have availability to match federal funds, then we can start looking at the express bus service connecting Conway to Little Rock and North Little Rock," said Covington.

Proposed bus service would bring three daily buses from Conway to Little Rock - three in the morning from Conway to Little Rock and three in the evening from Little Rock to Conway.

The study found that bus service in the morning from Little Rock to Conway was not feasible.