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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — Columbus could have a public transit bus service by January.

The City Council Tuesday night approved a contract with Indiana-based Lawrence Transit to start operating four buses on a fee basis in the city.

Owner Cliff Redden initially will start with two 16-passenger and two 32-passenger buses. He’ll set the routes and pickup locations and the city will help with route signs. He hopes to expand the service as ridership grows.

The 12-month contract calls for the city to help apply for up to three grants a year but Redden will have to pay any matching funds.

The company currently runs a transit service in Lawrence, Indiana.

No formal fee schedule has been announced but Redden has promised discounted rates for students and senior citizens, monthly passes and other deals.

Preliminary route proposals connect East Columbus and other parts of the city to downtown, Leigh Mall and other shopping areas, Mississippi University for Women and medical facilities surrounding Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle. Service to East Mississippi Community College also has been discussed.

Redden still must sign the contract and bring the buses to Columbus before finalizing routes and other details. He’ll hire bus drivers, maintenance workers and other employees. He’s said the service could employ as many as 70 people.

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