COLEMAN — The Central Texas Rural Transit District, or City and Rural Rides (CARR), has received a grant that will provide free public transportation for select Brown County residents.

“We were awarded a Job Access Reverse Commute program grant, which is funded by the Texas Department of Transportation,” said Adel Hunter, support service manager for CARR. “The grant is designed to help low-income workers and individuals to get to and from work, as well as dropping off any children at day care, prior to going to work or training.

Hunter said CARR officials have named the new program “Ride to Success,” which will be free for the first six months.

“From Dec. 7 until June 30, we are going to implement those rides at no charge,” Hunter said. “Anyone, as long as they reside in Brown County, are heading to work or training or are seeking employment will ride free those first six months.”

The Texas Workforce Solutions is working with CARR, identifying those job seekers who will need transportation while seeking employment.

“We have a good relationship with the work force, as they are contributing to the grant as well,” Hunter said. “The work force will help them arrange transportation through us.”

Recognizing that many possible riders will travel outside county lines for job training has led CARR officials to adjust accordingly.

“We have different routes implemented to deal with those situations,” Hunter said.

The JARC grant, combined with Stimulus Act funding will assist CARR with the “Ride to Success” program, and has provided extra buses for the district’s 11-county region.

“Central Texas Rural Transit District is very pleased to have these vehicles added to our fleet,” said J.R. Salazar, general manager of CARR. “The 25 new buses were purchased as part of the Stimulus Act and will be utilized to expand our services in our 11-county service area or to replace aged and high mileage vehicles. This is by far, CARR’s largest procurement, and we are excited to get these buses into service.”

Three ARBOC Mobility buses, which will only be used by Brown County riders, have also been added to the fleet.

“We are very happy about the ARBOC models,” Hunter said. “They are very special to us. The ARBOC is a bus that has a ramp that lowers, which will be easier for wheelchair accessibility and others who may have problems climbing steps on a standard bus.”

With the new program in December also comes a new schedule.

“Only for Brown County residents, we are going to be extending our service hours to Monday through Saturday from 5:30 a.m. until 7 p.m.,” Hunter said.

To participate in the program, a short application must be filled out.

“The applications will be used for us to be able to determine individual needs,” Hunter said.

To obtain an application, or for questions, interested riders can call (800) 710-2277 or visit Hunter at Good Samaritan Ministries between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Dec. 16 and the same time the first and third Wednesday of every month after.

“I really hope people take advantage of it and won’t hesitate to utilize public transportation,” Hunter said. “I think when you see how much money you can save – everyone will benefit.”

CARR, which already provides transportation in Brown County, will continue to offer local and out-of-town service for a fee to those who do not qualify for the “Ride to Success” program, and at the conclusion of the free trial.